Hardliners VDL and Macron face revolt from EU leaders over ‘inflexible’ Brexit border plot

Brexit: UK stance 'won't ease EU standoff' says expert

When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. Our Privacy Notice explains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time.

French President Emmanuel Macron and EU Commission boss Ursula von der Leyen are pushing for a hardline interpretation of the Brexit deal’s protocol to avoid a hard border. They are demanding that the letter of the EU single market rules must be applied to the letter of the law without the flexibility to resolve the row over customs checks on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. But others, such as Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, who is in charge of the negotiations, are pushing for more flexibility on EU rules.

The Slovak diplomat, who is Lord Frost’s EU counterpart, is pushing for more room to make compromises on medicines approval in order to achieve a peaceful end to the brutal feud.

Tempers flared between London and Brussels at the G7 summit over the application of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Eurocrats and hardline EU leaders want Boris Johnson to stick to the letter of the agreement, which includes strict single market rules for Northern Ireland.

Amid fears that the region is being cut off from the rest of the UK, Downing Street wants a series of exemptions to protect Britain’s territorial integrity.

A Brussels source told the Times “there are real tensions” about how tough to be in the negotiations.

Northern Ireland residents could possibly be denied life-saving medicines as a result of the application of the protocol.

Under the post-Brexit border fix, all medicines must be approved by the EU even if they are cleared for use in the UK.

The issue has emerged as one of the most pressing in talks between Mr Sefcovic and Brexit minister Lord Frost.

Whitehall officials believe the wrangling has been made even more tricky because of Mrs von der Leyen’s threat to suspend the protocol to block vaccine exports to Britain.

Mr Sefcovic, supported by Ireland, have convinced the Commission President to bend the rules in order to prevent the dispute spilling over into the NHS.

One compromise on the table is said to offer a derogation allowing the NHS in Northern Ireland to use UK-approved medicines.

But nothing has been presented in writing to the Government.

Mr Macron is particularly rattled by the row over the Northern Ireland Protocol, and believes Mr Johnson is using the issue as a domestic political power play.

The French President put himself front and centre of the row at the G7 summit, insisting EU single market law is non-negotiable and suggesting that Northern Ireland is not a proper part of the UK.

A diplomatic source said: “It is being used to help the Conservative at home.

“That is bad enough when trust is at a premium. Now Macron is making it worse.

Brexit: Expert warns of ‘big confrontation’ over Northern Ireland

“There is a real problem.

“Sefcovic is caught in the middle, between the UK and some in the EU. He wants to be pragmatic and on medicines has made a big offer but the political space is closing up fast.”

US President Joe Biden is expected to receive reassures from Mrs von der Leyen and European Council chief Charles Michel that the EU is willing to be flexible to protect the Good Friday peace agreement.

The White House has confirmed Mr Biden told Mr Johnson that the Brexit row should not be allowed to undermine the delicate peace process.

The US President and the EU chiefs will hold talks today but the protocol will only be mentioned in passing, according to sources.

“It will not be a big point,” said a diplomat.

“No one wants to upgrade it.”

Source: Read Full Article