Maros Sefcovic warns against Truss’ Brexit bill
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Liz Truss’ Northern Ireland Protocol bill “would not work”, blasted Top EU’s Brexit Commissioner Maros Sefcovic in a keynote speech at Bloomberg’s London headquarters. The bill introduced by Liz Truss – and approved in its second reading – would have the suffocating effect of creating a “mountain of bureaucracy” for businesses in Northern Ireland. Instead of an Irish Sea checks border – put in place under the current Protocol approved and signed by Boris Johnson – Liz Truss suggested a system of green and red lanes. Good travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland would go unchecked through the green lane, and goods destined to the EU would be checked through a red lane.
Maros Sefcovic argued Liz Truss’ checks system is absolutely unviable.
Speaking from Bloomberg’s London headquarters, he said: “The UK’s failure to engage with us on our initiative is extremely disappointing – more so as a majority of people in Northern Ireland can appreciate the positive benefits and opportunities that the Protocol brings.
“The UK’s bill on the other hand would lead to constant uncertainty. Put it simply, it would not work.
“Ministers in London would have the freedom to change the rules on a whim. A dual regulatory regime where businesses opt for the EU or UK regulations would bury them under the mountain of bureaucracy.”
“This would clearly be a lose-lose situation for EU-UK relations and first and foremost, for Northern Ireland,” Mr Sefcovic said. “A long shadow being cast over our relationship, of course, increases our vigilance, including UK statements about slashing EU regulations, touted by some as a major benefit of Brexit.
“The UK is of course fully entitled to diverge from the EU if it wishes to do so. But this regulatory diversion has its limits as well as consequences. For instance, in the area of financial services, data and certain food products, the EU’s unilateral decision to grant market access is conditioned on the UK’s current regulatory framework.
“In other words, an end of mutual recognition is a possibility if the UK changes its standards.”
Liz Truss won a victory on Monday when her Northern Ireland Protocol bill passed the House of Commons on the second reading by 295 votes to 221. She put forward the legislation to solve the political paralysis in Northern Ireland, which has been in limbo since the May elections. DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has ruled out power-sharing with Sinn Fein, the now largest party in Northern Ireland – obstructing the formation of a Government – amid fears the Protocol would exacerbate the cost-of-living crisis and distance the province from Great Britain.
However, the vote was followed by a barrage of criticism, mainly from former Prime Minister Theresa May who lost power over her failed attempts to get her Brexit deals passed in Parliament.
In a scathing attack in the House of Commons, the former Prime Minister said the bill would breach international law and would undermine the UK’s standing on the international stage.
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“As a patriot, I would not want to do anything that would diminish this country inn the eyes of the world,” Ms May said.
“I have to say to the government, this bill is not in my view legal in international law, it will not achieve its aims, and it will diminish the standing of the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world, and I cannot support it.”
The EU has taken legal action against Boris Johnson’s Government over the bill it considers a “clear breach of international law.” If the UK fails to give a detailed reply on how it will fix the bill by August, the EU could take Boris Johnson’s Government to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
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