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Irish EU Commissioner for financial services Mairead McGuinness:

Irish commissioner: EU made serious `mistake' in attempt to block vaccines across Irish border

McGuinness told RTE Radio 1 Sunday evening that she was happy the Commission quickly reversed course and by Friday night had approved a revised export regulation dropping the provision on Northern Ireland. She said the EU executive had failed to carry out "normal and proper scrutiny," but also strongly defended Ursula von der Leyen when pressed twice on whether the Commission president should resign over the incident.

"This was a mistake -- other words have been used -- it has had consequences," said McGuinness, the EU commissioner for financial services. "We have seen very justified anger and the political fallout. Fortunately, I know it was at the 11th hour, but the mistake was rectified."

McGuinness insisted she was unaware of the provision and not consulted about it.

by Bernard on Mon Feb 1st, 2021 at 07:18:53 PM EST
So are we any the wiser as to who actually made the decision to invoke A.16 of the Protocol? If Mairead McGuinness wasn't aware of it, it can't have been a full meeting of the Commission. So was it a Commission sub-committee on the covid-19 response? Who were the Commissioners present and who chaired the meeting? Or was it a decision made below Commission level, which would be extraordinary, as invoking a Treaty provision is not exactly a routine matter.

I get the decision was made in a rush, and the primary focus was on obtaining "greater transparency" on vaccine exports. Somebody probably mentioned N. Ireland as a potential backdoor, but said they could invoke A. 16 to prevent that.

But anyone involved in the Brexit negotiations would have been aware of how difficult that protocol had been to negotiate, and subsequent pressure from Loyalist sources on the British government to invoke it as a means of ending "the border down the Irish sea". Some staff policing that border have had to be withdrawn following threats of violence from loyalist sources.

This could be the spark to re-ignite the N. Ireland Troubles in a small way. I don't think anyone should resign over this, as the decision was quickly reversed, but somebody goofed in a big way, and we need to ensure that M. Barnier or some such knowledgeable person is included in future discussions on the issue.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 1st, 2021 at 11:23:09 PM EST
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BREAKING: All SPS checks now suspended at Belfast and Larne over concerns over safety.

Belfast and Larne port staff pulled after threatening and menacing behavior | Sky News |

by Oui on Tue Feb 2nd, 2021 at 12:12:32 AM EST
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by Oui on Tue Feb 2nd, 2021 at 03:30:10 PM EST
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The Game with a German football team ain't decided until the players are in the bus riding home 🤣

The continuing story of Brexit ... getting a clean break!

by Oui on Tue Feb 2nd, 2021 at 09:23:41 PM EST
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As for McGuinness' awareness of the A16 provision, she gives some details in the Politico.eu article I quoted above:

A Commission spokesperson, however, said that as part of the emergency procedure to adopt the vaccine export regulation, all commissioners and their cabinets received copies of the text so that they could potentially raise objections. (McGuinness did not immediately respond Sunday night to a message seeking to clarify the sequence of events.)

"It is absolutely true to say that the normal and proper scrutiny didn't happen because what was intended to be a very technical regulation to, if you like, to get information transparency on the flows of vaccines, turned out to contain this very, very sensitive clause about Ireland," McGuinness said.

Sounds like the text in question should have come from the level above the commissioners, VDL and her notoriously secretive cabinet (that's just a guess of course). And since the whole thing was rushed, even McGuinness didn't catch it before publication.

by Bernard on Tue Feb 2nd, 2021 at 12:27:44 PM EST
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Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney's "guesstimate" on RTÉ Radio:

Brussels still hasn't explained Irish border blunder, Dublin says

"In simple terms, you do not touch the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland without full consultation with the people who are most impacted by that, i.e. the Irish government, the British government and, perhaps most importantly, political leaders in Northern Ireland," Coveney said.

"To do anything to undermine the protocol without talking to the Irish government about the consequences of that is a serious mistake. But lessons have been learnt," he said.

When asked how such a fundamental diplomatic mistake could have been sanctioned, Coveney said the EU still hadn't explained what happened.

"I can only make a guesstimate," he said, offering what he considered the most likely scenario.

"Unfortunately what seems to have happened here it that some technical or legal expert pointed to a potential problem, whereby the Northern Ireland protocol could be used to ensure that vaccines could be exported from the EU into Great Britain without any authorization requirement, because the protocol provides unfettered access into Northern Ireland," Coveney said.

"They made a serious political mistake in the direction they took to solve that problem. I don't think this involved a political discussion by commissioners," he added.

by Bernard on Tue Feb 2nd, 2021 at 08:44:30 PM EST
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