Germany says there’ll be no more negotiations over Northern Ireland Protocol, as UK demands relaxation of EU customs arrangement

A spokesperson for the German government has said Berlin rejects any further negotiation concerning the Northern Ireland Protocol, but it supports European Commission attempts to find a solution.

Speaking on Friday, a German government spokesperson reiterated the country’s support for the European Commission and its attempt to find a solution to the issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

“The goal is to work with Great Britain to find solutions to implement the protocol, and the European Commission has the German government’s full support in this regard,” the spokesperson stated.

“However, we refuse to renegotiate the protocol,” they added, dismissing UK Brexit Minister David Frost’s demands for two to three weeks of “intense” talks. 

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Loyalist demonstrators hold signs and flags during a protest against the Northern Ireland protocol as a result of Brexit, in Belfast, Northern Ireland (FILE PHOTO) © REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
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The protocol has essentially drawn a customs border down the middle of the Irish Sea, keeping Northern Ireland within the EU single market. The arrangement, according to many in London and Belfast, isn’t working, and some say it threatens the hard-won peace on the island.

“There needs to be significant change if we are to get an agreed solution,” Frost told Politico on Thursday ahead of a meeting with Maros Sefcovic, who presides over EU-UK relations after Brexit. 

An EU proposal unveiled on Wednesday would see the flow of medicines between the UK and Northern Ireland go undisturbed, and all paperwork would be cut in half. Inspections on meat, dairy, and other food produce coming from the British mainland would drop by 80%. 

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A sign is seen with a message against the Brexit border checks in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol at the harbour in Larne, Northern Ireland February 12, 2021. © Reuters / Clodagh Kilcoyne
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In a pre-emptive message on Tuesday, Frost said he thought the EU’s proposal would likely fall short and that between two and three weeks of negotiations would be needed. In addition to customs relaxations, Britain also wants the removal of European Court of Justice’s oversight (ECJ) in Northern Ireland. The court decides whether institutions of the EU are acting legally, including on matters relating to trade and adherence with the bloc’s single market.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has also threatened to leave Northern Ireland’s power-sharing arrangement unless the protocol is amended.

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