Truss Warns She Will Trigger Article 16 Unless EU Shows 'Greater Movement' Towards UK Proposals

© AP Photo / Peter MorrisonA woman walks past past graffiti with the words 'No Irish Sea Border' in Belfast city centre, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021
A woman walks past past graffiti with the words 'No Irish Sea Border' in Belfast city centre, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.01.2022
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Previously, European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic told German Der Spiegel that if the UK were to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol – the thorniest part of the Brexit negotiations – it would throw into jeopardy “the foundation of the entire deal” hammered out between the two sides.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has warned that she will invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland (NI) Protocol to unilaterally impose "safeguard" measures, which would see the suspension of some rules required in the Brexit Withdrawal deal if a “negotiated solution” cannot be reached with the EU.
Truss, who took over from David Frost as the post-Brexit negotiator with the European Union after he resigned in late December, wrote in The Telegraph that she intended to suggest “constructive proposals” to her EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic.
Britain's Minister of State Lord David Frost walks outside Downing Street in London, Britain, September 15, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.12.2021
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Truss is hosting the European Commission vice president on Thursday during their first face-to-face talks at Chevening House estate.
“My priority is to protect peace and stability in Northern Ireland. I want a negotiated solution but if we have to use legitimate provisions including Article 16, I am willing to do that. This safeguard clause was explicitly designed – and agreed to by all sides – to ease acute problems because of the sensitivity of the issues at play,” wrote Truss.
The protocol was designed as part of the Brexit agreement that came into force in January to avoid checks on goods crossing the politically sensitive border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, which remains part of the European Union. This was done to protect the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that finally ended decades of fighting in Northern Ireland.
However, under the NIP, goods and animal-based products coming from the rest of Great Britain must be checked for their compliance with EU sanitary regulations.
What is effectively a new border now splits the UK down the Irish Sea - separating Northern Ireland from England, Scotland, and Wales.
© AFP 2022 / PAUL FAITHA truck passes signage on the old Dublin road near the border with Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, on January 1, 2021, as Britain begins life outside the European Union
A truck passes signage on the old Dublin road near the border with Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, on January 1, 2021, as Britain begins life outside the European Union - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.01.2022
A truck passes signage on the old Dublin road near the border with Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, on January 1, 2021, as Britain begins life outside the European Union
Article 16 is a mechanism that allows both the UK and the EU a chance to unilaterally scrap the way the Protocol is working to apply emergency “safeguard” measures. The agreement cites “serious economic, societal, or environmental difficulties” as cause for Article 16.
Many Loyalists and Unionists in Northern Ireland have argued that the protocol sets them apart from the rest of the UK.
© REUTERS / JASON CAIRNDUFFLoyalists protest against the Northern Ireland Brexit protocol at Belfast Harbour Estate, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, July 3, 2021
Loyalists protest against the Northern Ireland Brexit protocol at Belfast Harbour Estate, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, July 3, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.01.2022
Loyalists protest against the Northern Ireland Brexit protocol at Belfast Harbour Estate, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, July 3, 2021
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has also slammed the post-Brexit checks on goods coming in to Northern Ireland from other parts of the UK, such as eggs, meat, and medicine, as having a disruptive effect on trade, and sought an overhaul of the NI protocol.
It deplored how the protocol made Northern Ireland trade on different rules to the rest of the UK, rendering it subject to the European Court of Justice.
Truss emphasised that despite efforts to make the protocol work, its “unintended consequences are having a profound impact.” According to the Foreign Secretary, there are “myriad and manifest” problems.
“Red tape means that anyone who wants to send a parcel to Northern Ireland from Great Britain would need to fill out a customs declaration to do so... Families cannot take their pets with them when travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland without costly paperwork and unnecessary veterinary treatments. Northern Ireland’s Jewish community has struggled to get kosher food,” wrote Truss.
She deplored the situation where the UK - a sovereign nation - would have to notify the EU before providing support such as tax breaks for businesses in part of its own country.
“Northern Ireland is not in the Single Market and shouldn’t be treated as if it is. We are proposing a common-sense solution – goods going to the EU should go through customs formalities and those staying in the United Kingdom should not,” wrote Liz Truss.
FILE - In this Wednesday Oct. 16, 2019 file photo motorists pass along the old Belfast to Dublin road close to the Irish border in Newry, Northern Ireland - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.12.2021
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In her novel role of post-Brexit negotiator, she underscored that the UK was offering a pragmatic compromise. Truss reiterated the need for consensus on the issue of independent arbitration, ending the role of the European Court of Justice as the final arbiter of trade disputes.
Truss vowed she would not sign up to anything which stripped the people of Northern Ireland of the opportunity to benefit from “the same decisions on taxation and spending as the rest of the UK.”
Liz Truss also referenced the time when Brussels had sought to trigger Article 16 to establish border controls on coronavirus vaccine doses moving into Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland in January 2021 over shortages of the jabs in the EU. She recalled how the bloc had revised that decision, while nevertheless claiming its right to do so again in the future.
She voiced the hope that the UK and UE would be capable of working out a solution that “delivers for the people of Northern Ireland.”

EU Hopes For ‘Compromise’

This comes as European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic warned of serious consequences if Liz Truss were to trigger Article 16.
Speaking to Der Spiegel, he stated it would throw into jeopardy “the foundation of the entire deal” reached between the two sides.
“This is a very distracting element in the discussions. You try to achieve something together and – bam – there’s the threat of Article 16 again,” he said ahead of talks with Truss.
© AP Photo / Olivier HosletEuropean Commissioner for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight Maros Sefcovic talks to journalists during a news conference at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020
European Commissioner for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight Maros Sefcovic talks to journalists during a news conference at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.01.2022
European Commissioner for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight Maros Sefcovic talks to journalists during a news conference at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020
While deploring the fact that London had “breached a great deal of trust”, the EU official voiced belief that a compromise could be found.
“The Northern Ireland Protocol was the most complicated part of the Brexit negotiations, and it is the foundation of the entire deal. Without the protocol, the whole system will collapse. We must prevent that at any cost,” stated Sefcovic.
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