Any additional or persistent uncertainty around Brexit “is not going to help” with soaring energy prices and the high cost of living, the European Commission (EC) vice president has warned at a meeting in London today. (Monday, November 7)

Maroš Šefčovič told a meeting of the UK-European Union (EU) Parliamentary Partnership Assembly (PPA), that the EU wanted to have “a strategic, enduring and mutually beneficial partnership” with the United Kingdom (UK).

He said there was a clear rationale for this given the current economic climate and the war in Europe.

 Šefčovič  said:

“The strong economic headwinds, with rising energy and food prices as well as inflation across Europe, surely give another reason for strengthening our EU-UK collaboration”.

Politicians from across the European parliament and UK parliament, including Colm Markey, member of the European parliament (MEP), gathered at Westminster today to take part in the PPA.

MEP Colm Markey attending the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly

The EC vice president told the PPA that the UK’s decision to leave both the single market and the customs union has had consequences.

“As a result, trade is no longer as frictionless and dynamic as before, resulting in additional cost for both UK and EU businesses”, Šefčovič said.

He warned that any further divergence would “carry even more cost and will further deepen the barriers to trade” between the EU and the UK.

The EC vice president added:

“This is surely the moment to abandon recourse to unilateral action, such as the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, set to disapply core elements of the protocol.”

He stressed that the EU remained committed to working “constructively and intensively on joint solutions” particularly in relation to outstanding issues around the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

The EC vice president also told politicians from the UK parliament and European parliament that he believes the EU and the UK “are not worlds apart”.

“Just to give you an example: a lot has been said about “a UK’s green lane” versus “an EU’s express lane.

“The issue here boils down to “no checks” versus “minimum checks”, stemming from Brexit itself,” he said.

Šefčovič said he wanted to ensure that the movement of goods between Britain and Northern Ireland was as seamless as possible “with almost all checks and controls effectively invisible”.

“I am convinced that where there’s a will, there’s a way to find these joint solutions for the benefit of people and businesses in Northern Ireland.”

He said told politicians from the UK and across Europe that Northern Ireland “could and should” be fully exploiting its unique position of having access to both the UK’s internal and the EU’s single market.