Speaking on Monday, Mr Sefcovic claimed he is “absolutely convinced” issues can be resolved. Following Lord Frost’s repeated threats over Article 16, Mr Sefcovic called on the UK to engage with the EU. He said: “If our partners in the UK would engage, and I hope we will see more of that this week, then I am absolutely convinced that we can resolve all the issues which are troubling people on the ground.”
The European Commission is preparing to impose tariffs on UK exports under a specially prepared package that will likely be shared with other EU member states as soon as tomorrow (Tuesday), according to Politico.
It is hoped this will discourage the UK from following through with its threat of triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which would see trade rules in the UK province suspended.
Another option being considered includes the total suspension of the post-Brexit trade deal.
The latest escalation in tensions comes after talks in Brussels on Friday between the UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost and European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic ended in stalemate, with negotiations continuing in the Belgian capital this week.
It is now looking almost certain the UK will invoke Article 16 before the end of this month, with Lord Frost warning last week doing so may be the “only option” as Britain continues to claim the conditions for triggering it have been met.
Mujtaba Rahman, a former EU official now at consultancy Eurasia Group, warned: “The relationship is totally broken, and it’s not going to move into a better equilibrium until this question of the Protocol is fixed.”
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