UK minister admits talks with EU over Northern Ireland Protocol failing to make progress
London [UK], June 16 (ANI/Sputnik): UK Brexit minister David Frost said on Wednesday that current talks with the European Union over the implementation of the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol are making little progress, so London is keeping "all options on the table."
"It's just that we are not making much progress despite all the ideas that we have put in," Frost told a parliamentary committee quizzing him about the fresh row between London and Brussels.
As part of the Brexit agreement, Northern Ireland remained in the European single market and customs unions after the United Kingdom left the bloc for good on December 31, 2020.
Although there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, all goods and animal-based products coming from the rest of the UK territories must be checked upon arrival to Northern Ireland to comply with the EU sanitary regulations, leading to delays in the arrival of products and protests from unionist loyal to London.
According to Frost, who was the UK chief negotiator of the post-Brexit trade deal, the main difficulty is the way that the protocol is being operated, "which is not in our view consistent with the intentions of us as negotiators."
Asked if the government is considering to unilaterally scrap the agreement, he said that "all options are on the table," but they would rather prefer to find a negotiated way forward whenever possible.
"The Prime Minister [Boris Johnson] has been very clear that all options are on the table. He has said several times we will do whatever is necessary, and that is the view that is held across Government because we are extremely concerned about the situation," the minister stressed.
The UK government is trying to push back the full implementation of checks on supermarket goods and parcels to prevent shortage of chilled meat products in the UK province due to delays caused by the customs checks and paperwork, but the EU claimed such move would undermine the protocol, and has threatened London with legal action.
The fresh row over the flow of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland dominated Johnson's talks with EU leaders attending the last weekend's Group of Seven summit in Cornwall, with the UK prime minister vowing to do "whatever it takes" to protect both the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the UK. (ANI/Sputnik)