EU rejects UK call to end ECJ power over Brexit deal amid bitter row

Northern Ireland Protocol: 'EU needs to shape up' says David Davis

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A European Commission spokesman told a news conference: “Our focus should be on those issues that matter the most to the people of Northern Ireland and not on requests such as removing the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). “Doing this would effectively mean cutting Northern Ireland off from the EU’s single market and related opportunities.”

On Saturday, British Brexit negotiator David Frost released extracts of a speech due this week, reiterating London’s long-standing demand to remove any governing role of the ECJ from the EU-UK agreement regulating their new ties after Brexit.

The Commission said it would unveil this week concrete proposals to ease controls on trade coming from Northern Ireland to EU member state Ireland, but that they would not deviate fundamentally from the Brexit deal in place.

Downing Street has said that changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement are essential if it is to survive.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the UK had signed up to the protocol in “good faith” but the way it was being operated by the EU was unsustainable.

“It was formed in the spirit of compromise in challenging circumstances.

“Since then we have seen how the EU is inclined to operate the governance arrangements, issuing infraction proceeding against the UK at the first sign of disagreement,” the spokesman said.

“These arrangements aren’t sustainable, we need to find a new way of resolving issues that arise between us using mechanisms normal in other international treaties.

“It is unheard of for bilateral agreements being policed by the courts of one of the parties.”

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But Ireland’s foreign affairs minister has accused the UK Government of dismissing EU solutions to the Northern Ireland Protocol before they are published.

Simon Coveney also accused the British Government of “shifting the playing field” away from solving issues around the controversial protocol.

He made the comments in response to the Brexit minister’s demand to drop the role of the European Court of Justice from the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Lord Frost is to give a speech on Tuesday, in which he will make removing the role of the ECJ in Northern Ireland a red-line issue.

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“Each time that the European Union comes forward with new ideas and new proposals to try and solve problems, they are dismissed before they are released, and that’s happening again this week,” Mr Coveney said.

He said European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic and his negotiating team have spent months preparing a package to resolve ongoing issues, which they will publish on Wednesday.

In a post on Twitter at the weekend, Mr Coveney argued that the British Government has created a new “red line” over the ECJ.

He admitted that his tweet in response to the comments was “not very diplomatic” but said it is “not very diplomatic” of the UK Government to brief the British media.

“David Frost accuses me of raising issues on social media. It’s a bit rich, quite frankly, because he is briefing British media effectively to say ‘Well, the EU can make the changes that they need to make, but actually it’s not enough, we want more’, and now it’s the ECJ is the main issue,” Mr Coveney told RTE Morning Ireland.

“Yes, it’s true that they raised ECJ issues in a command paper in mid-summer, but the truth is, if the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, in terms of the functioning of the EU single market, was an absolute red line for the UK, why did they sign up to an agreement that allowed the ECJ to effectively be the final arbiter for the implementation of the protocol in Northern Ireland?

“This is being seen across the European Union as the same pattern over and over again – the EU tries to solve problems, the UK dismisses the solutions before they’re even published and asks for more.”

Downing Street said changes to the governance arrangements in the protocol are essential if it is to survive.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the UK had signed up to them in “good faith” but the way they were being operated by the EU was unsustainable.

“It was formed in the spirit of compromise in challenging circumstances,” the spokesman said.

“Since then we have seen how the EU is inclined to operate the governance arrangements, issuing infraction proceedings against the UK at the first sign of disagreement.

“These arrangements aren’t sustainable, we need to find a new way of resolving issues that arise between us using mechanisms normal in other international treaties.

“It is unheard of for bilateral agreements being policed by the courts of one of the parties.”

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