Brexit: EU 'needs to be reasonable' warns Truss
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EU Brexit chief Maros Sefcovic today signalled a ceasefire in the sausage wars after the Government asked for the blockade on British-made bangers being sold in Northern Ireland to be pushed back. The Brussels diplomat said he would hold talks with Brexit minister Lord Frost in the hope of brokering a long-term solution. But he refused to withdraw the threat of tariffs and quotas on British goods if an agreement isn’t reached, warning of a potential “downward spiral” in EU-UK relations.
In a speech to the College of Europe, Mr Sefcovic said: “I am convinced that there is still a window for productive political dialogue and positive results, particularly in the light of the UK reaching out to us on chilled meats.
“And therefore, I trust that our UK counterparts will make use of this window with vigour and perseverance.”
Both sides had been locked in a bitter war of words over the export of chilled meats, such as sausages and burgers, from Britain to Northern Ireland.
Under the EU’s hardline interpretation of the protocol to avoid a hard border, No10 must enforce its blockade on British-made bangers being sold in the region.
The Government has asked for the implementation of the embargo to be pushed back until the end of September while a compromise is discussed.
Whitehall officials fear the EU’s hardline approach could spark violence in Northern Ireland with the current grace period set to expire at the end of the month ahead of the marching season.
Mr Sefcovic described Brussels as having reached a “crossroads” with the UK and said the bloc wouldn’t be shy in taking legal action if a compromise is not reached.
And he accused the Prime Minister of having “buyer’s remorse” over the terms signed up to in the 2019 Brexit withdrawal deal.
“Either we are working together, with the UK abiding by its international obligations and engaging in good faith. Or the UK continues to take unilateral action,” Mr Sefcovic added.
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“If the latter path is chosen, I fear a downward spiral in our relations, which would take our joint attention off a truly strategic partnership.
“And in this case the EU will not be shy in reacting firmly and resolutely to ensure that the letter and the spirit of the Protocol are respected.”
Yesterday Government spokesman said: “Any ban would be contrary to the aims of the Protocol and the interests of the people of Northern Ireland.”
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Brexit: UK stance 'won't ease EU standoff' says expert
Ministers remain pessimistic about a breakthrough in the sausage war with Brussels after asking last night for a delay to new border checks.
Government insiders are “not holding their breath” that a solution can be found.
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