Brexit: EU 'under pressure' to be 'friendlier' to UK says de Lucy
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European Parliament foreign affairs and international trade committee chiefs endorsed the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on Thursday. But German MEP Bernd Lange, the institution’s trade chief, warned a date hadn’t for a final vote on the deal has not been set because of “mistrust” in the UK Government. Brussels is furious Downing Street moved to unilaterally scrap EU trade checks on goods being sent from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland, and has launched legal action against the UK.
Mr Lange said: “At the moment there is a lot of discussion about mistrust towards the British Government, specifically regarding the unwillingness to implement the necessary steps in the Northern Ireland Protocol.”
He added: “This is a historic vote in our committee today, but it’s totally clear that at the moment there is no date fixed for voting.
“There’s a reason behind that. We want to see clear commitments for the fulfilment of the protocol.”
The provisional application for the deal is due to expire at the end of April, and the UK has repeatedly warned it expects the EU to complete its ratification process by then.
Now Britons have launched a furious attack against the EU, warning that it is in fact Brussels who can’t be trusted.
Reacting to our original story, one Express.co.uk reader raged: “MEPs won’t ratify it because of ‘mistrust’ in the British Government. Biggest joke of the day as who on earth would trust the EU?
A second person mocked Brussels by saying: “So the EU invoked Article 16 to try and stop vaccines from being smuggled across the NI border and the UK isn’t to be trusted?
“Quite a few bits of irony coming from the EU today.
“No ratification, no deal. Decision time EU.”
Another reader commented: “The feeling is mutual we don’t trust the EU either.
“But this is a storm in a teacup MEPs will do as they are told by their EU masters just like they always do.”
Several other readers urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to punish the EU, and even tear up the agreement that would result in a no deal Brexit.
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One person said: “My dream come true. Now get your fishermen out of UK waters.
“You can either buy UK caught fish, or do without.”
Another reader added: “Fine, that makes it null and void. So WTO from now on. Solve NI as we want.”
The ratification of the trade deal agreed last December has been further complicated by an explosive row between the UK and EU over how the Northern Ireland Protocol should be implemented after Brexit.
The protocol is supposed to stop a hard border with Ireland and after Brexit, the North has remained part of the EU’s single market for goods, resulting in products arriving from Britain being subject to EU import regulations.
The UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost met European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic in Brussels for talks on Thursday in a bid to thrash out “significant differences” between the two sides on the issue.
But the talks appear to have done little to ease the simmering tensions between the two sides, with Brussels warning only jointly agreed solutions to trading issues are acceptable.
The European Commission said in a statement: “The vice-president insisted on mutually agreed paths towards full compliance with the Protocol, which includes clear end-points, deadlines, milestones and the means to measure progress.”
The statement added legal action against Britain would “be continued as long as necessary”.
Downing Street admitted “some positive momentum half been established” during the meeting between Lord Frost and Mr Sefcovic but warned “a number of difficult issues remained”.
A UK Government spokesman said: “Lord Frost said that the intensive discussions between the co-chairs of the Specialised Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in recent weeks had begun to clarify the outstanding issues, and some positive momentum had been established.
“But a number of difficult issues remained and it was important to continue to discuss them. He agreed there should be intensified contacts at all levels in the coming weeks.”
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