Vaccines, Northern Ireland … Difficult relationship between London and Brussels since Brexit

Since Britain’s official exit from the European Union, the feud between the two camps has grown manifold.

Some believed that the signing of the post-Brexit deal would ease tensions in recent months. It did not happen. Since the United Kingdom’s official exit from the European Union, the already turbulent relations between London and Brussels during the negotiation phase have not really taken the path of de-escalation.

Conversely, repeated disputes have highlighted the difficulty of maintaining peaceful cooperation on both sides. And if the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, assured in late December that the United Kingdom would be “the best friend and ally that the European Union can have”, it is clear that the reality is much more complex.

David Brest, a former Brexit negotiator and now minister in charge of the EU, himself admitted on 9 February that relations with the EU had been more than “bumpy” and “problematic” since the divorce between London and Brussels. It should be said that the context is particularly favorable for stress. Between the recent entry into force of a trade agreement that is disrupting businesses and managing health crises, the reasons for the conflict are not lacking.

AstraZeneca case

A month after partition, the United Kingdom refused to grant the EU envoy the status of de facto ambassador to London. A simple tale of protocol that confirms the degraded state of relations between the two camps after only four years of heated negotiations. Tensions escalated in late January when in full deployment of its vaccine campaign against Kovid-19, the European Union reported a delay in delivery of the promised dose by the Swedish-British laboratory AstraZeneca. To achieve a hail of criticism, all was needed for the already badly drafted 27K vaccination strategy.

In this regard, the United Kingdom has shown strikingly impressive efficiency, retaliating its population until it becomes the best student on the continent. A breakthrough that aroused the suspicion of the European Union, which accused AstraZeneca of distributing British supplements produced on its soil that were reserved for it.

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Humiliated and determined not to vaccinate the best advertisement for Brexit, the European Commission tied its fists on the table by restoring export controls on 29 January for better control of vaccine supplements. However, this hasty decision has apparently come to an end in 2019 between the European Union and the United Kingdom against the Northern Irish Protocol, one of the core principles of which is the absence of a physical border between the Republic of Ireland, still a member of the Union , And Northern Ireland, a British province.

Shout out

The European decision immediately ignited the wrath of the British authorities, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, of which Prime Minister Arlen Foster did not hesitate to speak of “an unbelievable hostile act”. To the point that Brussels swiftly resolved the backtrack, the head of the European executive, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed her “remorse” and admitted that she “never” had to trigger article 16 on export controls. should think”.

If it made a mistake, the commission warned that it would “consider using all the devices at its disposal” in the event that “third countries were to be abused to abuse vaccines and active substance infections” . ” Authorization system “. To which a spokesperson for Boris Johnson responded that” the UK has legally binding agreements with vaccine suppliers and to do anything to obstruct the application of these contracts, to a friend and colleague The European Union is not as expected “.

In a strong position on vaccines, the British government has also announced that it can support countries in supply difficulties. And according to media across the channel, Ireland may be among the first to help. Some already see it as another attempt to destabilize the European Union that Britain was accustomed to during the Brexit negotiations.

Northern Ireland at center of tensions

However, in the wake of the reform, Brussels departure from the Northern Irish Protocol has only reinforced the sense of anger that has been animating the British province since the entry into force of the trade agreement on Brexit. With its special status before the European Union and the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland is actually facing shortcomings associated with trade controls introduced between the island and Great Britain and the new administrative formalities that companies have been subject to since 1 January.

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The application of the new trade rules is so badly experienced that controls were temporarily suspended in the ports of Belfast and Larne in early February, as threatened against staff responsible for carrying them out Went. The European Union, for its part, announced the withdrawal of its personnel assigned to the controls in Northern Ireland, until tensions subsided.

Under pressure from the Northern Irish population, the British government wanted to take advantage of the EU’s failure in the AstraZeneca episode to receive a revision of the rules of the protocol: “This is a time when trust has decayed, where damage has been done.” And where we need to move to ensure that we have a proper reset, ”said Michael Gove, the minister responsible for coordinating the government’s action.

“There are a number of issues (…) where we believe that there is a need to act effectively for the benefit of the citizens of Northern Ireland,” he said, adding that the postponement of customs controls in Northern Ireland and More calls were made.

The European Union, however, addressed an inattention stating that the measures included in the treaty and approved by the United Kingdom “must be implemented promptly and faithfully”. The European commissioner, Maros Sefkovic, responsible for overseeing the trade agreement, also assured in a letter that the Northern Irish Protocol contains the necessary elements to resolve the “gaps” observed since the application of the new trade rules.

London extends the grace period of Northern Ireland, EU declaration

Unexpectedly, the Brussels response did not reassure the UK government, which found it “disappointing that the Commission failed to recognize the shock and anger felt throughout the community of Northern Ireland following its decision to trigger Article 16,” And there was a need to take immediate action as a result to restore trust. “

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Ignoring the European response, London on Wednesday announced an extension of the grace period between Britain and Northern Ireland on food controls to allow businesses to adapt. Considered to end on 1 April, Boris Johnson’s government took the initiative to extend it to 1 October.

The resentment that the European Commission once again expressed, with particularly sharp tantrums, expressed its “grave concern” over this “unilateral decision”, which it saw as a “contradiction with the constructive approach” that had persisted so far .

“Water War” soon?

Tough negotiations, which began several years ago to define future relations between London and Brussels, have made their mark. Neither the European Union nor the United Kingdom today stands ready to give gifts to its partner in matters of trade. Importing the notes from British waters into EU shells if they have not been cleaned, as evidence of a ban from 1 January Marion.

A decision, spontaneously, which the entire channel criticized: “The European Union had so far promised that these exports could continue – British water suddenly did not become more damaging between 31 December and 1 January,” Minister British Environmental Officer, George Eustais replied.

According to daily TelegraphThe UK government is considering a backlash and is considering “water war proposals, which could see the UK conclude several continuity agreements with the European Union”. In this regard, it is considering levying a tax on mineral water of the continent as well as seed potatoes, which benefits from a temporary authority throughout the channel. What to think is that Brexit still holds many twists.

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About the Author: Forrest Morton

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