Ex-Irish PM Leo Varadkar: Dublin Plans For Potential Trade War Between EU and Britain

© AFP 2022 / TOLGA AKMENA Pro-European Union protester holds Union and European flags in front of the Victoria Tower at The Palace of Westminster in central London on September 13, 2017, ahead of a rally to warn about the terms of Brexit, by EU nationals in Britain and UK nationals in Europe
A Pro-European Union protester holds Union and European flags in front of the Victoria Tower at The Palace of Westminster in central London on September 13, 2017, ahead of a rally to warn about the terms of Brexit, by EU nationals in Britain and UK nationals in Europe - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.11.2021
Subscribe
International
India
Africa
At the heart of the row is the Northern Ireland Protocol, a provision of the Brexit deal that aims to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland while one withdraws from the EU and the other remains in it. London has called on Brussels to renegotiate the agreement, something the EU has vowed not to do.
The Republic of Ireland has begun planning for a potential trade war between the European Union and the United Kingdom, former Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has announced.
Speaking to RTE News at One, Varadkar, who is at present the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, said that Dublin has been preparing for this scenario should UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson decide to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol, a move that will terminate the entire post-Brexit trade deal and foreshadow a collapse in relations with Brussels, he added.

"I don’t think anybody wants to see the European Union suspending the trade and cooperation agreement with Britain. But if Britain were to act in such a way that it resigned from the protocol and the withdrawal agreement, I think the European Union would have no option other than to introduce what we call rebalancing measures to respond," the former Taoiseach said.

Varadkar has stressed that the Northern Ireland Protocol is broadly supported by most political parties in Belfast as well as by the local business community. "I really hope that Britain doesn’t go down this road. Prime Minister Johnson always spoke about wanting to get Brexit done," he said.

Brexit and the Troubles

The development comes as the European Union and Britain continue in their attempts to solve the ongoing row over the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP), a provision of the Brexit deal that the sides struck after the UK left the bloc in January 2020.

The protocol's main aim was to preserve the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, a peace treaty, which ended a decades-old violent sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. Dubbed the Troubles, it began over the status of Northern Ireland – Irish nationalists and Republicans opposed an alliance with the United Kingdom and wanted Belfast to join the Republic of Ireland, while Unionists and loyalists wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK.
The conflict left more than 3,600 dead and 30,000 injured. Among other things, the Good Friday Agreement stipulated that the border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (EU member) should be almost non-existent – no border posts, no cameras.

To preserve this status quo after Brexit, the UK and Brussels have agreed that Northern Ireland would remain in the European Union’s single market and that the checks on goods going to the bloc from Britain and vice versa should be conducted at the border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK (England, Scotland Wales).

However, the agreement appears not to be worth the paper it was written on as there have been major supply disruptions because of checks at the Irish border ever since Britain officially left the European Union. This has caused anger in Northern Ireland and led to tensions with Unionists strongly opposing the NIP which they say threatens Belfast's membership in the UK.
© REUTERS / Jason Cairnduff Беспорядки в Белфасте, Северная Ирландия
Беспорядки в Белфасте, Северная Ирландия - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.11.2021
Беспорядки в Белфасте, Северная Ирландия

'We Are Prepared For War'

Another issue, which has exacerbated the difficulties is the delivery of chilled meat to Northern Ireland. The European Union only allows frozen meat to enter its single market and as such exports of sausages and minced meat from England, Scotland and Wales to Northern Ireland, a de-facto member of the bloc, are banned.

Brussels and the UK agreed a six-month grace period that temporarily suspends the rules of the NIP that was recently prolonged. During that time, both sides intended to find a long-term solution to the conundrum, but failed in their resolve.

Britain has been asking the bloc to renegotiate the NIP, something Brussels has vehemently refused to do, accusing the UK of reneging on its promises.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to trigger Article 16 of the protocol, which allows both London and Brussels to suspend the measure if it causes "economic, societal, or environmental difficulties. In such an event, the European Union, in turn, has vowed to start a trade war with the UK, imposing tariffs and quotas on British exports.

"EU capitals such as Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Paris would expect a robust response [to Britain using Article 16]. We are ready for peace but prepared for war," a senior EU diplomat told newspaper, the Daily Telegraph.

Newsfeed
0
To participate in the discussion
log in or register
loader
Chats
Заголовок открываемого материала