UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been warned to obey EU rules, with German MEP David Mcallister saying the UK was on a “slippery slope” with its latest move over the Northern Ireland row.
The UK’s Cabinet Office Minister Lord David Frost announced this week that the UK was extending a series of grace periods with the intention of easing trade between Northern Ireland and the UK until permanent arrangements are in place.
But the unilateral move by the UK has triggered concern from Brussels as Britain has been accused of stepping out of its treaty obligations in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, which, ordinarily should prevent a return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Maros Sefcovic, European Commission vice president has furiously weighed in saying the commission was already working on infringement proceedings against the UK.
German MEP David Mcallister, on his part, warned Boris Johnson, describing the latest move by the UK as unnecessary and untimely as the European Parliament was still discussing the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).
Taking it to Twitter, Mcallister wrote, “The UK Coordination Group held a meeting today with Maros Sefcovic to assess the worrying situation created by the UK Government’s announcement that it would adopt unilateral measures to extend certain grace periods.
“This is unnecessary and untimely. The EU side has offered to discuss the flexibilities allowed by the protocol framework, but the UK Government has again chosen the slippery slope of acting outside the framework of the protocol.
“Moreover, this happens at a moment where the European Parliament is examining the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and has yet to decide when the vote on the consent will take place. These developments are unhelpful, to say the least.
“Escalating the situation is not the solution. The EU has demonstrated time and time again a clear and unambiguous will to a pragmatic, solution-driven approach to facilitate everyday life in Northern Ireland. The unilateral decision by the UK undermines this approach.
“The EP has been and remains fully committed to the faithful implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement, which is the only way to protect it in all its dimensions and avoid a hard border.”
Mr Sefcovic told the FT, “We are currently preparing it and it would be really something coming to our table very soon. The most precise term I can give you is really very soon.”