Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, and Maro efovi, the European Commission vice-president, are due to meet virtually this week to try to break the deadlock on Northern Ireland’s Brexit inspections.
However, as the countdown to a 30 June ban on the sale of chilled meats from the United Kingdom, including sausages, in Northern Irish supermarkets begins, tensions between the EU and Boris Johnson’s government remain high.
Clément Beaune, a French junior minister for European affairs, said on Monday that the present Brexit standoff is a “test” for Europe, while Michel Barnier, the EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator, warned that the UK must implement the Northern Ireland protocol.
Last week, efovi accused the UK of failing to follow through on assurances made in March 2020 and December in regards to various aspects of the protocol, warning that patience was wearing extremely thin.
With increased predictions of a trade war, emotions are rising after a weekend battle of words at the G7 conference.
To avoid further deterioration in relations, both sides have just two weeks to reach a new agreement on the Northern Ireland protocol’s implementation, with the UK government threatening to postpone the implementation of a “bonkers” outright ban on the sale of chilled meats from the UK, including sausages, that is set to take effect on June 30.
If there is progress on concessions in the coming days, a phone or online discussion this week might be followed by a face-to-face meeting next week.
The stalemate takes place amid a backdrop of continued political unrest in Northern Ireland, following the fall of DUP leader Arlene Foster, who resigned as the first minister on Monday at midday. According to a new poll conducted by Queen’s University, 74 percent of Northern Ireland voters want the UK and EU to have a tighter relationship.
On Wednesday, Frost will appear before the Northern Ireland affairs parliamentary committee to answer “important issues.” At the same time, Ireland is expecting continued influence from the US administration.
Last week, it was revealed that Simon Coveney, the foreign affairs minister, had requested Jake Sullivan, the US national security advisor, to discuss the problem of Northern Ireland’s instability with London during a layover in Shannon airport.