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Vaccine politics turn poisonous

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jan 30th, 2021 at 02:05:42 PM EST

The already difficult relations between the UK and EU threatened to turn poisonous when the European Commission tried to invoke Article 16 of the Ireland Protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement to prevent EU made vaccines being exported to the UK through the "backdoor" of Northern Ireland.

This went against years of EU and Irish diplomacy which has sought to prevent the emergence of a hard land border within Ireland. How the Commission could have made such a decision without consulting the Irish government on its political ramifications is beyond belief.

The now aborted move to invoke Article 16 exposes the degree of anger and vulnerability felt within the Commission at it being seen to be responsible for the EU's slower vaccination program than those in the UK, Israel and US, in particular. But as often the case in these crises, the real story is a lot more complex and nuanced.


The first thing to be said is that the UK rushed through its vaccine approval process and presented its earlier approval of the Pfizer vaccine in starkly political and nationalist terms: Britain was the first to approve the vaccine because it was a "better country" than all its European neighbours and had the best scientists and least bureaucratic approval process, if its Ministers where to be believed.

One can only imagine the reaction to this hubris in Brussels and EU member states who had given the Commission the lead role in the vaccine procurement process even though the Commission has very limited competency in healthcare generally. It played into pre-existing British narratives of the Commission being a sclerotic bureaucracy obsessed with regulation and red tape.

Had the European Medicines Agency's more thorough vaccine vetting and approval process revealed some flaws in vaccine efficacy, or some serious side effects resulting in it being risky for some demographics, the EU's more measured approach would have been seen as perspicacious and wise. With vaccination scepticism and unwillingness to be vaccinated widespread in some states, an abundance of caution in authorising the vaccines is perhaps justifiable, even in the midst of a raging pandemic.

But that is not how events transpired: two vaccines have now been found to be efficacious and safe, and the UK's earlier approval has given it a head start in its vaccination programme, with over 10% of its population vaccinated, while the EU average is closer to 2.5%. UK infection and death rates may still be the third worst in the world, behind only Belgium and Slovenia, but the Johnson regime now has something to crow about, and has been not been slow to do so.

The irony, from an EU point of view, is that the UK head start was only made possible by the early development of the Biontech Pfizer vaccine which was designed, developed and manufactured within the EU and then exported to the UK. This has not prevented the UK from hailing it as a "British" success story.

Matters came to a head this week when AstraZeneca, known as an Anglo-Swedish company, despite being effectively managed from Britain, announced that it would be cutting its deliveries to the EU by 60%, despite honouring its contractual obligations to the UK government in full.

AstraZeneca claimed that the UK had approved its supply contract three months before the EU, and was therefore entitled to get its deliveries first. The EU counterclaimed that's its contract with Astra Zeneca specified supplies from all four production plants (two of which are in the UK) and that they had been assured that Astra Zeneca had no conflicting contractual obligations which might prevent it fulfilling its contract in full. The EU can also claim that some mistakes in AstraZeneca's trial process and communications reduced its confidence in their vaccine, delayed the approval process, and led it to also prioritise other vaccine candidates.

With exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the UK to the EU effectively barred, the EU has now retaliated by threatening to bar exports of the Pfizer vaccine from the EU to the UK. All fair and reasonable you might think: it should be no more controversial to export UK manufactured vaccines from the UK to the EU, than the other way around. It is, however, rather an unedifying spectacle to see two rich power blocs vying for supplies while most of the third world is left with none.

The Chief Executive of Trocaire (an Irish Aid Agency) has published a letter noting that their medical personal in Ethiopia have no prospect of being vaccinated this year, and the WHO had advised that front-line medical personnel and high risk demographics throughout the world should be vaccinated first, before the general population at lower risk of fatal consequences.

Fat chance of that happening, given the increasingly nationalistic tone of "vaccine politics," despite the fact that even countries clear of the virus run the risk of continual re-infection from high infection zones so long as the virus is rampant anywhere. Mutant variants of the virus which may be immune or resistant to existing vaccines, also have a much greater chance of emerging if the virus is still prevalent in other populations.

A fully objective case can be made that Astra Zeneca's output should be prioritised for high risk medical personnel and older demographics in the EU before it is rolled out to the general population in the UK. But that is not how this row is being portrayed: It has been a godsend for Brexiteers in the UK to crow at their superior processes in post Brexit UK, and I have personally been jeered by Brexiteers in the UK that their elderly relatives have been vaccinated long before mine in Ireland.

But the Commission threat to invoke Article 16 of the Ireland Protocol was a step too far. In the first place, N. Ireland is getting its vaccine supplies through Britain, and not the other way around. In the second place, the EU has already agreed "trusted trader" schemes with British supermarket chains supplying N. Ireland ensuring that their deliveries don't leak across the border into Ireland bypassing Customs Union and Single Market controls. It should not be too difficult to institute a similar scheme for pharmaceutical companies to ensure their consignments are destined only for the Irish public health authorities - the only legitimate customer for Covid Vaccines in Ireland at the moment.

Instead, the Commission threat, now hastily withdrawn, gave N. Ireland Unionists and British Government ministers something legitimate to complain about, and they have not been slow to express their outrage. Hard line loyalists have been pressing the UK Government to invoke Article 16 in order to frustrate the operation of the Ireland protocol, and now the Commission has almost handed them a precedent to validate their claims.

DUP Leader, Arlene Foster, has branded the EU decision to trigger Article 16 of Brexit's NI Protocol 'incredible act of hostility' and even Sinn Fein and Irish Government sources have reacted with embarrassment and dismay. It is being presented as an attempt to prevent N. Ireland receiving any vaccines from EU sources, and has handed the UK a propaganda victory at a time it has little else to crow about.

Even before this latest controversy erupted, Finn McRedmond had a story up in the Irish Times arguing that the Vaccine war is Johnson's chance to rewrite the Brexit narrative, and that major historical events are judged on their outcomes, not on details or processes. In her view Boris' Johnson's response to the Covid crisis could yet be seen as a national post Brexit triumph, despite all the objective evidence to the contrary.

Having hardly put a foot wrong in its Brexit negotiations, the Commission may be guilty of some missteps on its Covid response, at the very least from a political and public relations point of view, which has played into existing Brexiteer narratives about the EU and given them an important propaganda victory. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that it would not have happened had Michel Barnier been in charge of the Commission's Covid response.

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A senior Irish government official said the Commission completely overlooked the political sensitivities while focusing on the vaccine issue.

"Brussels seems to have been looking at the big global picture and took its eye off of the Protocol," the senior official said. "We note that the original announcement of an export ban outside the EU did not even mention Ireland or the border. It's quite the oversight, if indeed that's what it was."

The fear in Ireland is that even with the reversal, the Commission's move could inspire a big push by Northern Ireland unionists to get various problems with the Irish Sea customs border canceled, by having the U.K. trigger the same Article 16.

That would potentially force both sides into new negotiations when the Brexit trade deal has not even been ratified.

"It's the last thing we would have expected," the senior Irish official said. "We are hoping the damage from this confusion can be quickly contained, and that communication improves."

by Bernard on Sat Jan 30th, 2021 at 03:11:07 PM EST
As a smaller market, the U.K. almost certainly paid more. "They've clearly had to create the worst terms and conditions," the Commission official said. "God knows what they've agreed to on liability and indemnification."

At the same time, there's little denying that, while the variety of jabs available in Britain isn't as wide as it is across the channel, no EU country has vaccinated more people than the U.K. If the U.K. were still a member of the EU, it would be the only country on track to achieve the Commission's goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the adult population by summer at their current pace.

For governments champing to act faster, the delays have thrown the tradeoffs in the EU's strategy into sharp relief.

Countries can't just follow the U.K.'s lead by unilaterally authorizing vaccines purchased by the EU -- doses purchased by Brussels can only be released after they get the EMA's signoff, according to the agreement. So even though Budapest tried to make a point by green-lighting the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, it won't get any shots before the rest of the bloc.

by Bernard on Sat Jan 30th, 2021 at 03:17:01 PM EST
The EU that keeps on giving ... where's Michel Barnier?

EU vaccine row 'political penalty kick for unionists' | BBC News |

Whatever the sequencing and the hard conversation between Dublin and Brussels, political parties in Northern Ireland are already picking through the wreckage to salvage what they can.

For Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance, it is all about damage limitation and ensuring Brussels has learned lessons from its costly political blunder.

But for the DUP and Ulster Unionists, it has supercharged their onslaught on the Northern Ireland protocol.

They can say that, at the first sign of trouble, Brussels effectively advocated for the same hard land border it had fought years to prevent.

It was a political penalty kick for unionists into an open goal.

Now the glass is broken they want London to push the same emergency Article 16 button.

Nationalism and the global SARS CoV-2 pandemic ... getting it wrong most of the time! From herd immunity to economic favors to failing to protect the frontline workers and vulnerable persons in society. Guardianship and responsibility in leadership.

Hoarding Covid-19 vaccines `keeps the pandemic burning', says WHO | Irish Times |

Have been following the spat closely all week ... some the anger growing. AstraZenica shipping doses vaccine from EU manufacturing and now cannot meet contract commitments to the EU. BoJo feeling fine for one more stab in the back of Brussels. A Trumpian act ...

Yet the commitment to provide vaccine to the EU was one part of the deal. The other part of the contract was for global supply of vaccine from the India manufacturing plant ... also with massive EU funding.

by Oui on Sat Jan 30th, 2021 at 03:20:31 PM EST

The Irish Sea Border

DUP denies whipping up NI Protocol fears

by Oui on Wed Feb 3rd, 2021 at 02:00:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]

by Oui on Wed Feb 3rd, 2021 at 07:52:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Cat on Sat Jan 30th, 2021 at 04:34:08 PM EST
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jan 30th, 2021 at 04:44:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does it mean that Ursula VdL has, if for a couple of hours on Friday, lowered herself (and the EC) to Boris Johnson's level? I don't know which is worse.

Anyway you look at it, it is still an embarrassment for the EU leadership (Johnson being beyond any embarrassment for a long time, of course).

by Bernard on Sat Jan 30th, 2021 at 07:43:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No. She didn't tell any lies or mislead anyone. She, or more likely a staff member, made a mistake and she speedily corrected it. What more can we expect from our leaders?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 31st, 2021 at 05:07:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To acknowledge mistakes? And even have the gall to correct them? How quaint.

No wonder most of the Brit press is crowing about victory is this new Battle of Britain and sees their perceived upmanship as an opportunity to improve Brexit to the UK's advantage. What is there to negotiate now? Haven't we been there before?

We still have no clear or convincing explanation as to why AstraZeneca won't deliver doses from its UK facilities to the EU, in addition to the Belgium and NL ones, as allowed for in the contract.

We only know that Astra is UK headquartered and that the price paid by the UK government is higher than the one negotiated by the EU. In a tight supply situation, it makes perfect business sense to allocate your deliveries to the highest prices markets first (a similar situation does exist in the chip industry - I did work in that sector some years ago).

Again, all the above is just speculation at this point, and we'll probably not get any explanation for a long time, if we ever get one.

Your 2021-2026 UK-EU trade war scenario is looking eerily prescient.

by Bernard on Sun Jan 31st, 2021 at 05:38:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's OK for the UK to import the Pfizer vaccine from the EU to expedite its vaccine programme but not for the UK to export AZ vaccine to expedite the EU's vaccine programme.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 31st, 2021 at 05:48:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's Brexitsplaining: do what I say, not what I do, the European version of IOKYR.
by Bernard on Sun Jan 31st, 2021 at 09:07:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We still have no clear or convincing explanation as to why AstraZeneca won't deliver doses from its UK facilities to the EU, in addition to the Belgium and NL ones, as allowed for in the contract.

Yep, that is a crucial bit of missing information. Also, are there any penalties for non-delivery in the contract?

And does EU have any equivalent to the US War Production Act to set aside the Oxford/AztraZeneca patent rights and let production companies churn out generica as soon as possible?

By happenstance I found out that Finland is using doses made in Sweden (in Södertälje to be precise).

by fjallstrom on Mon Feb 1st, 2021 at 02:02:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As in any war, truth is the first casualty.
by Bernard on Mon Feb 1st, 2021 at 02:27:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unbelievable, the headline below doesn't do justice to the underlying problems ...

AstraZeneca says it will boost vaccine production to 2M a week | Politico - Jan. 15, 2021 |

Health authorities in the UK have decided to change their distribution strategy, prioritizing giving as many people a first shot as possible.

British drugmaker AstraZeneca says it will boost production of the coronavirus vaccine it developed with Oxford University to two million doses a week by the middle of January.

According to the Times, an unnamed member of the Oxford/AstraZeneca team said production was expected to reach a total of 1 million doses by the end of next week.

"The plan is then to build it up fairly rapidly -- by the third week of January we should get to two million a week," they added.

...

Meanwhile, a senior scientist from Oxford University has complained that the country's pharmaceutical manufacturing base is not prepared to handle the roll-out of the jab.

"The government has been completely disinterested in building onshore manufacturing capacity for any of the life-sciences products," said John Bell, professor of medicine at Oxford.

Simple math ... manufacturing rate of 52 million per year to double to 104 million 🚱 ... cutting corners to please the Brexiteers in the City.

by Oui on Mon Feb 1st, 2021 at 03:08:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Defense Production Act of 1950 (last amended 2009, 1992, 2014) is not a long or difficult text to read.

Contrary to popular belief, congress deliberately constrained powers granted to a POTUS to contract and order supplies for, ahem, national defense in several ways--including but not limited to the Fund balance and "foreign entities"-- so as to limit liabilities and test impairment of the "domestic industrial base". Besides which, the cost of "nationalizing" private property effectively deters seizures as well unilateral prerogative, which appeared to be the case for Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co..

By and large, the act provides for mundane appropriations to fill recurring DoD contract tenders.

by Cat on Mon Feb 1st, 2021 at 08:24:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably still all for domestic consumption? What would they do with their moral victory? Demand moral trade concessions?
by generic on Mon Feb 1st, 2021 at 03:55:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Protocol promise: PM in vow to trigger Article 16 if trading difficulties worsen - Belfast Telegraph -  14 January 2021
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said his Government will have no hesitation in triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol if "disproportionate" problems arise as a result of the Brexit deal.

Mr Johnson made the comments in the Commons yesterday in response to a question from the DUP's Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

Article 16 allows the EU or the UK to unilaterally take appropriate safeguard measures if its application leads to "serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist", or to diversion of trade.

Sir Jeffrey said: "The Prime Minister promised us that Northern Ireland would continue to have access to the UK internal market, yet in my constituency consumers are facing empty supermarket shelves, they can't get parcels delivered from Great Britain.

by Bernard on Sat Jan 30th, 2021 at 07:39:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't you realise that its only the UK which is supposed to be trying to constantly renegotiate, modify, or otherwise negate previously agreed commitments? No wonder the children are crowing when the adult makes a mist-step. But you can be sure the Commission is storing up all these incidents for payback later.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 31st, 2021 at 05:46:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The latest, this Sunday night:


AstraZeneca to deliver 9M more coronavirus vaccine doses to EU
AstraZeneca will deliver 9 million more doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the EU than it offered last week, the European Commission announced, following a week of escalating tensions over massive anticipated shortfalls.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday after a virtual meeting with the CEOs of vaccine producers including AstraZeneca that the company will now send a total of 40 million doses in the first quarter of the year and start deliveries one week earlier than scheduled. It will also expand its manufacturing capacity in Europe.

AstraZeneca's revelation that it would fall short of expectations by some 75 million doses sparked a standoff with the Commission over the terms of the company's contract, and also prompted Brussels to impose export controls on vaccines leaving the bloc.

by Bernard on Sun Jan 31st, 2021 at 09:13:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep... this hot potato is now square in Ursula's lap.
by Averett on Sat Jan 30th, 2021 at 04:46:37 PM EST
Covid-19 vaccine candidate: Novasep signs a Master Supply and Development Agreement with AstraZeneca | Novasep - Nov. 12, 2020 |

Novasep, a leading supplier of services and technologies for the life sciences industry, is pleased to announce that it has now signed a multi-year Master Supply and Development Agreement with AstraZeneca to support large-scale production of the active substance of the adenovirus vector-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222.

This new contract follows the initial agreement signed between AstraZeneca and Novasep Belgium on June 14th in the context of the Inclusive Alliance for Vaccines (IAV), whose members are France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.  [Who was late at the table BoJo? ... honor British commitments]

The production of the vaccine candidate active substance under this supply agreement will be carried out at Novasep's site located in Seneffe, Belgium which expects to increase its workforce from 280 to close to 400 by 2021 to support this project.

AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine (AZD1222) Distribution

On December 8, 2020, Halix B.V. announced it would provide commercial manufacturing of drug substance at its state-of-the-art cGMP facility at the Leiden Bio Science Park in the Netherlands. HALIX expands with 2 additional viral vector production lines to meet the increased demand.

Halix - Excellence in GMP Manufacturing

The 6,700 m2 BSL2 GMP facility, recently approved by the Dutch authorities and located on the Leiden Bio Science Park in the Netherlands, provides both clinical and commercial scale manufacturing capabilities in fully independent, self-contained Grade B and C cleanrooms for virus products.

by Oui on Sun Jan 31st, 2021 at 07:45:27 PM EST
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
[ Parent ]

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
[ Parent ]
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
[ Parent ]
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
[ Parent ]
Making a mistake

A sub-committee of the EU Commission makes a rushed decision in the middle of a crisis to try and ensure that vaccines are not being exported out of the EU in breach of the pharmaceutical companies' contractual commitments to its own vaccination programme.  When the serious implications of one aspect of the proposal are pointed out to it, it admits its mistake, and changes the decision. Ursula Van Der Leyen, President of the Commission, takes full responsibility for the mistake and commits to ensuring it doesn't happen again.  What more can we expect of our leaders? If only it were always so.

Healthcare provision is generally a national competency within the EU, and this is the first time the Commission has taken the lead role in EU wide vaccine procurement. In doing so it has helped us to avoid the kind of toxic vaccine nationalism, which has broken out between the UK and the EU, also breaking out between member states of the EU. If that had happened, you can be sure that Ireland, as a smaller member state without our own vaccine manufacturing capability,  would have been paying top dollar prices at the back of the queue.

We have all learned a lot about managing a pandemic, and still have a lot to learn. Making mistakes is part of that process. It's how you recover from a mistake that matters.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2021 at 04:30:34 PM EST
Because it's OK when the Brexiters do it:

UK demands waiver on Northern Ireland Brexit checks to 2023

LONDON -- The U.K. demanded the EU extend waivers on post-Brexit checks on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland for almost two years, after Boris Johnson accused the bloc of having "undermined" the Northern Ireland protocol.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove made the request in a letter to European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič in a bid to avoid further disruption on trade across the Irish Sea. It comes after threats were made against staff carrying out checks at Northern Ireland's ports, and amid ongoing tangles with new post-Brexit checks.

Gove suggested that if the demands are not met, the U.K. could trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol -- overriding the arrangement as the EU threatened to do on vaccines. Gove is due to hold a meeting with Šefčovič and Northern Irish leaders this afternoon.

EU not willing to give them cake.

EU rebuffs UK demand to soften Northern Ireland Brexit trade terms

DUBLIN/LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union on Wednesday appeared to rebuff a British demand for an extended grace period for Brexit checks on goods going from Britain to Northern Ireland, with a senior official saying recent issues could be resolved under the current deal.

by Bernard on Wed Feb 3rd, 2021 at 09:20:16 PM EST
by generic on Wed Feb 3rd, 2021 at 10:08:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 4th, 2021 at 01:38:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hooray!

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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Fri Feb 5th, 2021 at 10:03:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bernard on Fri Feb 5th, 2021 at 06:52:18 PM EST


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