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European Commission vice-president Sefcovic warns future British leader on triggering article 16 - Irish Times
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic has warned Britain's next prime minister that triggering article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol could give European leaders the impression that London was not interested in co-operating with the European Union. Speaking in Oxford at the annual meeting of the British Irish Association, Mr Sefcovic also highlighted the link between the withdrawal agreement of which the protocol is part and the trade agreement between Britain and the EU.

"Our relationship is now founded on two agreements: the withdrawal agreement and the Trade and Co-operation Agreement, which we negotiated together, agreed and ratified. Our partnership, and the trust underpinning it, requires - and depends on - these legally-binding commitments being respected. There are no two ways about this."

by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Sep 5th, 2022 at 08:02:54 PM EST
It has always struck me as odd that the EU has reacted so timidly to the House of Commons passing legislation that will explicitly break the Withdrawal Agreement while making these veiled threats if the UK invokes A.16.

Whatever the merits of any justification, both parties are entitled, under the Treaty to invoke A.16, and indeed the EU almost did so some time ago (a decision hastily reversed).

So why react so strongly to a legal (if difficult to justify) act while doing nothing about the NI Protocol Bill which explicitly gives Minsters wide ranging powers to illegally nullify parts of the Withdrawal Agreement?

And would the EU really give notice of termination of the TCA if Article 16 is invoked? and what then is its escalation plan if the NI Protocol Bill becomes law around the end of this year?

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 5th, 2022 at 11:27:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the EU is saying, "On the one hand there are the WA and TCA; they are legal documents already agreed to by the UK government; and scrapping them, even by A.16, would unavoidably scrap both the form and the function of UK-EU relations.  On the other hand the NI Protocol Bill, while potentially a breach of the WA and probably the TCA as well, is still at this point only a piece of proposed legislation within a non-member state, and we're just going to let the people in the UK connect those dots of implication on their own rather than handing the crack-headed Brexiteers more ammunition for their accusation that the EU is trying to control the UK's internal affairs."
by rifek on Tue Sep 6th, 2022 at 07:20:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
breaking an international treaty is hardly "an internal affair". The EU is required, under the terms of the Treaty, to give 12 months notice of cancelling the TCA. They could do so now - or as soon as Truss confirms she is proceeding with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill and/or A.16 - and still have 12 months to change their minds. It would be like serving the UK notice that breaking the Withdrawal Agreement will have severe consequences in the near future unless she turns back from her confrontational approach.

In practice, in the short-term, it would also add to the uncertainty facing the UK economy, and would heap pressure on her to come to an agreement quickly.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Sep 6th, 2022 at 07:35:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I'm sure the EU believes the Bill, on passage, would be a treaty violation.  The EU also knows, though, it has been dealing with a series of UK governments (and Brain-Truss won't be any different) and their idiot constituencies that acted like A.16 was instantaneous, that it could be oven-ready today and fully baked tomorrow.  That's stupid and wrong, but we are talking about the people who voted for Brexit, so.  The EU views itself as dealing with a four-year-old having a temper tantrum at the Christmas dinner table, and it is trying to handle it without losing too much of the good china and crystal.  So while the EU undoubtedly has a strong desire to fire a formal warning shot, it knows the effect in the UK would be, "See!  Even NOW those damned snail-eaters and beer-swillers are trying to tell our Parliament what to do!"
by rifek on Tue Sep 6th, 2022 at 07:57:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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