EU says renegotiation of the Northern Ireland Protocol is "not an option" 1 month ago

EU says renegotiation of the Northern Ireland Protocol is "not an option"

"The European Union is united in this position."

European Union officials have said that "renegotiation is not an option" when it comes to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

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The declaration arrives shortly after a leading UK political analyst reported on an apparently imminent plan by the UK Government to suspend the Protocol. This is as the race to restore the Stormont Executive is in danger of stalling out.

Following a conclusive election victory for Sinn Féin over the weekend, the party quickly accused the DUP of "holding society to ransom" with regard to delaying the reformation of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson, meanwhile, has stated the party will not form an Executive until issues with the Protocol are resolved.

In a statement issued on Tuesday (10 May), European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič has said that the EU wishes to have a "positive and stable relationship with the UK" while clearly underlining that the Protocol is an "integral part" of proceedings.

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"It is the solution found with the current UK government in order to protect the 1998 Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions and therefore also avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, whilst protecting the integrity of the EU Single Market," he stated.

The Vice-President said that the EU has been open to a joint effort with the UK on implementing the Protocol to bring "long-term legal certainty and predictability to the people and businesses in Northern Ireland" and that it remains responsive to such discussions.

"From the very beginning, the EU has worked tirelessly to propose creative and durable solutions, showing flexibility on how the Protocol should be implemented," Šefčovič added.

"It has shown that solutions can be found without changing the Protocol. For instance, the EU has ensured that the same medicines continue to be available in Northern Ireland at the same time as in the rest of the UK.

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"We want to finalise these solutions as quickly as possible. But to do this, we need the UK government to show the same level of determination and creativity.

"With political will and genuine commitment, joint solutions to legitimate practical issues raised by people and businesses in Northern Ireland can be found within the framework of the Protocol."

The Vice-President said also that "only joint solutions will work" and that unilateral action by the UK would only make the EU's work on possible solutions more difficult.

"The Protocol, as a cornerstone of the Withdrawal Agreement, is an international agreement," he stated. "Its renegotiation is not an option. The European Union is united in this position."

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