Brexit: EU Commission says ‘mistakes can happen’
EU bosses are still reeling from the outright condemnation of their hastily-scrapped bid to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol to restrict vaccine exports from Europe to the UK. But as the full-scale damage limitation exercise was stepped up in Brussels officials were struggling to brush the episode off as a simple miss-step.
What a pathetic comment from the European Commission
And Ms von der Leyen’s chief spokesman Eric Mamer sparked fresh outrage when he told a press conference: “Only the Pope is infallible, you know?
“Mistakes can happen along the way but the important thing is that you recognise them early on – in this case so early that it was before the decision was finalised – and that you correct them.”
Former Labour minister Kate Hoey, who campaigned for Brexit ahead of the 2016 EU referendum and now sits in the House of Lords, was appalled by Mr Mamer’s remarks.
She tweeted: “What a pathetic comment from the European Commission.”
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Mr Mamer’s statement was also condemned by former Brexit Party MEP Rupert Lowe.
He tweeted: “The arrogance of these people is just astonishing.
“Thank goodness we got out when we did.”
The EU’s bid to override part of the Northern Ireland protocol on Brexit was met with astonishment and then fury in London, Belfast and Dublin.
Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney today acknowledged it was “a mistake that shouldn’t have happened”.
Mr Coveney said European Commission was wrong to consider triggering Article 16 without first consulting the UK and EU member state Ireland.
He said: “I think it was a mistake that everybody recognises should not have happened.
“I mean 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 it.
“The Irish government, the British government and, perhaps most importantly, political leaders in Northern Ireland.
“That’s what happened on Friday, which should not have happened.
“And I think lessons have been learned as a result of that, and it certainly won’t happen again.”
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Irish European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness admitted the normal and proper process of scrutiny that usually surrounded such a decision had been abandoned by senior EU chiefs on Friday night.
Ms McGuinness said the move was a mistake and accepted Brussels would have to face the consequences and deal with the fallout as a result.
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