The UK and the EU are locked in a dispute over trade relations in Northern Ireland and there does not appear to be an end in sight to the dispute. Problems persist over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol – a mechanism created to prevent a hard physical land border on the island of Ireland.
The legislation ties Belfast to the EU regulatory framework and now establishes a trade border along the Irish Sea, severing Northern Ireland from the rest of Britain.
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen refused to budge on the arrangements and said this week that there was “no alternative”.
However, a former Brexit Party MEP claimed the bloc was overestimating border issues in order to gain control of Northern Ireland.
James Wells insists that the scale of the problem in Northern Ireland is “tiny” in the grand scheme of trade between the UK and the EU.
He insisted that most obstacles can be overcome with light regulations, such as checks at places far from ports and trusted trader systems.
Mr Wells, former head of trade and inflation at the ONS, points out that trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland is around £ 5 billion.
This represents less than 1% of UK-EU trade – equivalent to around £ 650 billion.
Mr. Wells said Express.co.uk: “You can install light control in Ireland at the border.
“It’s not insurmountable, we could have done that, like I said, the fact that it’s less than one percent of the trade.
“Even if you had no regulations, the magnitude of the problem you are talking about is minimal.
“So with light regulation, no border infrastructure, but control locations far from the border and trusted trader systems, that really shouldn’t have been the problem.
“And that’s not a problem, it was done on purpose by the EU and Ireland, not so much to punish us for Brexit, but to take advantage of Brexit and take Northern Ireland away from us.”
Mr Wells also criticized the protocol for being implemented without the approval of both communities.
He also argues that in its current form it undermines the Union and the Good Friday Agreement.
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The new round of controls at the ports of Belfast and Larne have been in place since January and have contributed to growing political unrest in Northern Ireland.
Unionists and loyalist groups have taken to the streets in recent months over fears that Northern Ireland will be separated from the rest of the UK.
The Council of Loyalist Communities wrote a letter to the prime minister informing him that the group will withdraw support for the Good Friday Agreement, a move which Mr Wells called “an extremely worrying development”.
Brexit Minister Lord Frost and European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič are co-chairs of the EU-UK Joint Committee and remain in contact to find a solution.
At the EU Council earlier this week, Von der Leyen accused the UK of leaving the European Union over the current problems in Northern Ireland.
She insisted the protocol is necessary to protect the EU’s single market, but said the bloc would “also explore practical solutions to help minimize disruption”.
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Ms von der Leyen said: “The beginnings are not easy, tensions are felt around access, for example, to EU fishing boats, or tensions are undoubtedly there around the setting. implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“And I think it is important to reaffirm that the Protocol is the only possible solution to ensure peace and stability in Northern Ireland while protecting the integrity of the European Union’s single market.
“If we see problems today, we must not forget that they are not coming from the protocol but that they are the result of Brexit. This is the reason why the problems are there.
“Now it is our common duty with the UK to do all we can to reduce tensions in Northern Ireland and that is why we are exploring practical solutions to help minimize disruption to daily life by North Ireland.”
Responding to the House of Lords, Lord Frost told his peers: “I think it is extremely disappointing, despite everything that has happened.”
He added: “The fact that there are more checks from Britain to Northern Ireland than there are in Rotterdam; that the European Union and the European Commission have always been at listening to the absolutely genuine concerns and concerns of Northerners. Ireland. “