EU chief rejects renegotiation of NI rules in Brexit pact
LONDON (AP) — The head of the European Union's executive arm flatly refused Thursday to renegotiate post-Brexit trade rules with the U.K. after Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the bloc to work with his government to find “practical solutions” to red tape and inspections that are causing shortages of some goods in Northern Ireland.
Johnson called European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to lay out the U.K.’s proposed changes a day after British officials publicly said the trading rules the government negotiated with the EU “cannot go on.” Post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland have further strained already difficult relations between the EU and it's former member.
“The EU will continue to be creative and flexible within the Protocol framework,’’ von der Leyen said in a tweet after the call from Johnson. “But we will not renegotiate.’’
Since the U.K. left the EU’s economic sphere at the beginning of the year, relations have soured over Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that has a land border with the 27-nation bloc. The divorce deal struck before Britain’s departure means customs and border checks must be conducted on some goods shipped to Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K.
The rules were intended to protect a key pillar of the peace process in Northern Ireland, an open border with the Republic of Ireland, which remains an EU member. But the arrangement has angered Northern Ireland’s unionists because they say it amounts to a border in the Irish Sea that weakens ties to the rest of the U.K.
EU officials contend the rules are necessary to protect the European single market from goods that don’t meet its standards for food safety and animal welfare.
Britain says the EU is taking a “purist” approach to the rules that is causing...