UK tells EU it will continue to waive Brexit controls in Northern Ireland – POLITICO


LONDON — The UK will continue not to implement post-Brexit checks on agri-food and other goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain, it told the EU in a letter.

The British government responded on Thursday to action by the European Commission over alleged breaches of the Northern Ireland Protocol, a key part of the Brexit divorce deal regulating the arrival of goods into the region from the rest from the United Kingdom.

In a letter, delivered by the British mission to the EU, the government signaled its unilateral decision to maintain the status quo, a British official said. British ministers had argued that the so-called grace periods were under threat by legal action by the Commission.

The move stops short of a threat the UK had flirted with over the summer – triggering Article 16 of the protocol, an emergency clause allowing either side to suspend parts of it.

The UK continues to argue that maintaining the status quo is necessary to allow talks to continue with the EU over the long-running protocol dispute. Meanwhile, he refuses to withdraw his controversial Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would potentially allow ministers to impose the UK’s unilateral approach permanently.

Following the introduction of this bill in June, the Commission launched a series of infringement procedures, aimed at the way the UK manages the protocol. London argues that the post-Brexit arrangement for Northern Ireland is too bureaucratic for business and underscores deep opposition among Unionist politicians in the region. Brussels points out that the UK signed the deal, which aimed to avoid checks at Northern Ireland’s border with EU member state Ireland, while protecting the bloc’s single market.

London has also called for a meeting next week to discuss Britain’s frozen membership of EU programs such as Horizon Europe and Copernicus, as part of the UK’s formal litigation procedure against the Commission. on the case launched last month.

The UK government has declined to publish the letter or make any statements about its contents as the policy remains on hiatus during the 10-day mourning period for Queen Elizabeth II.

A Commission spokesperson confirmed receipt of the letter on Thursday morning. “We will analyze the response before deciding on next steps,” he said.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will travel to London to attend the Queen’s funeral on Monday, but it remains unclear whether she will meet new Prime Minister Liz Truss before heading to New York for the Assembly General of the United Nations.

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