Brexit: Attempt to trigger Article 16 a ‘mistake’ says Sefcovic
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Despite the EU’s insistence to protect the single market, federal minister of economics Peter Altmaier, claimed economic ties between Britain, Germany and the EU are integral post-Brexit. Given the size of trade between the UK and EU, and in particular Germany, he stated the economic future of Britain is still vital to Europe’s long-term success. Although the EU has taken a hard-line stance against the UK throughout Brexit and in the months following the transition period, he insisted both sides must continue to cooperate.
During a virtual discussion with Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng for the London School of Economics, he said: “The economic success and prosperity of Great Britain is still in the interests of the EU.”
In a shock admission, the minister also claimed Germany respects the UK’s departure from the EU and stands ready to work with Britain in the future.
According to trading figures from the UK Government as of 2018, Germany stands as the UK’s second-largest trading partner.
Overall, the value of trade equated to £136billion which was only bettered by the US.
Following the end of the transition period, relations with the EU have soured following Brussels’ threat to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol.
This would have allowed the EU to taken emergency measures to block vaccine supplies heading to Britain from Europe.
Although the threat to invoke the measure, has now been rescinded, officials have warned it has damaged relations while some Brexiteers have urged the Prime Minister to take out similar measures.
Many UK politicians have warned the UK may need to invoke the article if the damage to trade in Northern Ireland continues.
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Last week the UK had urged the EU to agree to extend the grace period over goods entering Britain from Northern Ireland in order to aid trade.
Following a meeting with Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, EU Commission vice-President Maros Sefcovic claimed no extension was needed.
Instead, he indicated the UK had not implemented the protocol adequately to avoid disruption to trade.
However, in response Tory MP for Clwyd West told Express.co.uk the EU had now shown it was ready to use the instrument to punish the UK.
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He said: “I think the Northern Ireland protocol has to be revisited.
“The Northern Ireland protocol, which was supposed to be something to allow the flow of goods across the border without the need for physical operators on the border, has actually, it turns out to be something that the EU wants to use as a weapon against the UK.
“It’s something that they want to use as a weapon to punish the UK for something the UK hasn’t done.
“So I think that now that we’ve seen the way that they will use the Northern Ireland protocol, the withdrawal agreement itself has got to be looked at to get.
“And I think that the British government would be entirely justified to say, you know, this is not working you you’ve abused the terms of this treaty.”
The protocol had been created to protect trade between Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the EU.
Many Northern Irish officials, however, have warned that the instrument effectively leaves them isolated from the rest of the UK.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.
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