We cannot continue as we are, Brexit Minister David Frost said in the House of Lords on Wednesday, who asked the EU to impose a moratorium on the application of the so-called Northern Irish protocol that gives time to negotiate the introduction of significant changes to the document.
As part of the Withdrawal Treaty that marked the UK’s final withdrawal from the bloc last December, the British province of Northern Ireland remained within the European single market and customs union to avoid the establishment of a physical border with Ireland.
The protocol establishes, however, that all goods from Great Britain have to undergo health checks before entering that territory in order to verify that they comply with European regulations.
The controls cause delays in the transfer of goods that, according to Frost, have already led to a shortage of Northern Irish supermarkets, and are rejected by the unionists who see their ties with the British central government threatened.
The protocol was due to enter into force on June 30, but London and the EU agreed at the last minute to extend the grace period for another three months, which exempts meat products arriving from Great Britain from sanitary and customs controls.
Noting that disagreements over the agreement hamper post-Brexit relations between the UK and the EU, Frost clarified that his country will not invoke Article 16 of the text that allows one of the parties to take unilateral measures.