Disagreement between the UK and the EU over how to handle post-Brexit trade involving Northern Ireland has increased.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said he was “increasingly worried” that the United Kingdom is embarking on “a path of confrontation”.
His British negotiating counterpart, Lord Frost, accused Brussels of behaving “without regard” to the enormous sensitivities in Northern Ireland.
The plan in place aims to secure an open border on the island of Ireland.
The UK wants key changes to the plan, officially known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, while the EU has suggested a more modest package of measures that will reduce its practical impact.
“Peace is too precious in Northern Ireland to be jeopardized,” Sefcovic said wrote in an editorial published in the Daily Telegraph.
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Sefcovic writes that Brussels has come up with “a solid package of solutions that has the potential to solve” the challenges in implementing the protocol.
“This was done in good faith and I am now working around the clock to reach an agreement with the UK government to provide the stability, certainty and predictability that Northern Ireland deserves,” he writes.
“I am increasingly concerned that the UK government will refuse to engage in this and embark on a path of confrontation.”
Separately, former Brexit chief negotiator Lord Frost accused the EU of “overly strict” enforcement of the protocol.
The cabinet minister said the EU is behaving “without taking into account the enormous political, economic and identity sensitivities” in Northern Ireland.
Lord Frost made the comments in the foreword to a new document for the think tank Policy Exchange, which details how negotiations in the Brexit process were hampered by the decisions made in 2017.
He suggests that a 2017 joint EU-UK report, which set deadlines for the Brexit process, was the result of the UK failing to make “the necessary mental shift from being a member of the EU to the negotiation of the exit from the EU “.
Lord Frost said: “We need to go back to protocol and deliver a stronger and more balanced outcome than we could in 2019”.
The latest disagreement on the protocol comes as a result of mounting tensions triggered by another post-Brexit issue: Anglo-French fishing rights.
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