A senior official of the European Commission has said that the EU “will respond with all measures at its disposal” if the UK moves forward with a proposed bill to remove parts of the Northern Ireland protocol.
Earlier today, UK foreign secretary Liz Truss told the House of Commons in London that Boris Johnson’s government will bring forward a bill to disapply elements of the protocol.
Responding to this announcement, Maros Sefcovic, vice-president of the commission for interinstitutional relations, said the UK’s plans “raise significant concerns”.
“The protocol is the solution agreed between the EU and the UK to address the challenges posed by the UK’s withdrawal agreement from the EU for the island of Ireland, and to protect the hard-earned gains of the peace process,” he said.
Sefcovic added that the protocol is an international agreement signed by the EU and the UK, saying: “Unilateral actions contradicting an international agreement are not acceptable.”
He also argued that the protocol is a necessary part of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU.
“Should the UK decide to move ahead with a bill disapplying constitutive elements of the protocol as announced today by the UK government, the EU will need to respond with all measures at its disposal.
“Our overarching objective is to find joint solutions within the framework of the protocol. That is the way to ensure legal certainty and predictability for people and businesses in Northern Ireland,” Sefcovic commented.
He added: “With political will and commitment, practical issues arising from the implementation of the protocol in Northern Ireland can be resolved. The European Commission stands ready to continue playing its part, as it has from the outset.
Sefcovic’s remarks mirror those of Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, who said earlier today that he “deeply regrets” the move by the UK.
“Such unilateral action in respect of an internationally binding agreement is damaging to trust and will serve only to make it more challenging to find solutions to the genuine concerns that people in Northern Ireland have about how the Protocol is being implemented,” Minister Coveney remarked.