Michel Barnier 'did his utmost to stop Brexit' says Farage
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Maros Sefcovic, European Commission vice-president, has sparked fury after calling on Brexit Minister Lord Frost to drop his demands to renegotiate the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol. Mr Sefcovic called for a “mutual spirit of cooperation” in the discussions around the Protocol which was created to prevent a hard land border, but has effectively placed a trade barrier down the Irish Sea.
Speaking during a visit to Northern Ireland on Friday, the EU chief suggested Lord Frost should stop wasting time trying to remove the role of the European Court of Justice and instead focus on ending the disruption.
The remarks made by Mr Sefcovic have triggered a furious response from a number of Express.co.uk readers, with many pointing out the UK is no longer an EU member state and should not be dictated to.
Commenting on a previous story, one online reader wrote: “All this rubbish just proves beyond doubt that not only were we right to leave the EU, but that the EU and all the fools that run it don’t believe in Democracy.”
A second said: “WTO (World Trade Organisation) is the only way to stop this and put the EU back in its place, the regime isn’t used to being told what do to.”
A third commented: “The EU better get used to it.
“The UK is no longer an EU member, the EU is nothing without European money, your project only lasted as long as it has because of UK money.”
Meanwhile, a fourth added: “Seems the EU still haven’t understood that Brexit means the EU no longer orders us around.”
The Northern Ireland Protocol was created to protect the Good Friday Agreement and ties Belfast to the EU single market.
Northern Ireland remains part of the EU regulatory framework and the Protocol has resulted in additional checks on goods flowing to and from Great Britain.
Unionists also argue the mechanism undermines the integrity of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland is subject to different rules.
Speaking in Belfast, Mr Sefcovic acknowledged there were difficulties with how the Protocol was operating, but he said it was not a reason to ditch the whole agreement.
He suggested that EU and UK officials should instead look at ways to ease the burden of the Brussels-ordered trade checks in the region.
The EU diplomat said: “I believe that our focus should be on those issues that matter the most to the people of Northern Ireland, and not on requests, such as removing the role of the European Court of Justice.”
He added: “A renegotiation of the Protocol – as the UK government is suggesting – would mean instability, uncertainty and unpredictability in Northern Ireland.”
The UK Government has actively sought solutions to the Protocol and outlined a command paper in July.
The document pointed out Lord Frost wanted to entirely rewrite the Protocol to remove the influence of the European Court of Justice and scrap all trade checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The UK also put forward plans for a “standstill period” where existing grace periods are maintained, as well as a freeze on existing legal actions and processes.
Lord Frost had stressed the UK and EU “cannot go on as we are” and called for “significant changes”.
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Earlier this month, it was reported the EU could take advantage of the Protocol and tie the UK to rules surrounding medicines beyond the end of the grace period in December.
But, Mr Sefcovic has suggested the EU is willing to row back on its proposals in order to protect supplies to Northern Ireland.
He said: “For my part, I will do whatever it takes to ensure that Northern Ireland has access to all the medicine it needs.
“But I also need to be honest: while we will continue looking for solutions to minimise the effects of Brexit on your everyday lives, we will never be able to remove them entirely – such are the consequences of Brexit and of the choices of the UK Government.”
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