Brexit: 'It's harder to work with the EU' says British retailer
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Since the start of the year, communities and businesses above the 310-mile boundary have been feeling the effects of the unpopular Northern Ireland Protocol. The treaty laid out in Boris Johnson’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement means the province effectively remained in the EU’s single market and goods entering from the rest of the UK are subject to customs checks.
The arrangement has caused trade disruption and upset among Unionist and loyalist communities.
But it has had a positive result for many businesses below the border and companies in Northern Ireland look closer to home to buy from.
Edgar Morgenroth pointed to recent data showing a boom in trade between firms on both sides of the 310-mile border.
In an op-ed for RTE News, Ireland’s public service broadcaster, he said exports from the Republic to Northern Ireland jumped by 40 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year.
And data also shows the number of goods going from Northern Ireland to the Republic shot up by 61 percent in the first four months of this year compared to the same period in 2020.
The economics professor at Dublin City University said: “The data provides early indications of significant Brexit effects.
“Trade between Ireland and Great Britain has been negatively affected, while Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol has had a significant positive impact on trade between the two parts of Ireland.
“While previous research indicated that the trade between the two parts of Ireland was lower than expected, Brexit appears to be increasing the trade integration on the island.”
The Northern Ireland Protocol emerged as a major thorn in the Prime Minister’s side after the Brexit transition period concluded on December 31.
Yesterday Britain’s EU ambassador said the Government believed the Northern Ireland Protocol was creating “a broad range of problems” for the sensitive border that were “much more severe” than those the bloc was seeking to solve.
Lindsay Appleby said flexibility was needed from the EU to find ways to implement the Irish border provisions of Britain’s divorce agreement from the bloc in a way that would work for Northern Ireland and the whole of the UK.
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The EU’s Maros Sefcovic issued a stern warning to London as both sides continue talks aimed at finding a solution to the problems.
Yesterday Mr Sefcovic, the vice-president of the European Commission, said Britain should consider a Swiss-style veterinary agreement with the bloc on agri-foods to bring about an end to the so-called “sausage war” row on chilled meat moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
EU rules stipulate that chilled meat from a non-member state cannot enter into the single market.
The UK has called the rule “bonkers”.
Critics have argued the EU is sticking to the rule not because it is concerned about preserving the integrity of the single market but because it wants to punish Britain for Brexit.
Mr Sefcovic, the EU executive’s chief interlocutor with Britain since last year, said the biggest challenge for Brussels was how to rebuild trust and realign its relationship with London.
But he warned the bloc would not hesitate to take legal action against its former member if the British Government did not comply.
“To build trust in each other requires first working together cooperatively and refraining from surprises,” he said, referring to the UK’s unilateral extension of grace periods for some food imports to Northern Ireland.
He added: “In response, we were forced to launch an infringement procedure (legal action), and without satisfactory steps by the UK to remedy these measures we will have no choice but to step up these legal proceedings.”
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