To analyse. A story without end. Five and a half years after the British chose to leave the European Union (EU), London and Brussels continue to negotiate the terms of their divorce, as if this break should never be consummated. At the end of negotiations as long as they were difficult, two agreements were nevertheless signed between the United Kingdom and the Twenty-Seven, in October 2019 and then in December 2020, which frame their relations and should, in theory, allow them to leave on new bases.
Of course, London left the European institutions. But Boris Johnson’s government continues to challenge the agreements he signed, even though they were adopted by MPs in Westminster. Today, Boris Johnson wants to renegotiate the very sensitive Northern Irish protocol, an agreement as complex as it is wobbly – no one has found better – which makes it possible to avoid the return of a physical border between the two Irlandes and to respect the peace agreement between Dublin and Belfast: it offers a dual status to Northern Ireland – it is part of the United Kingdom, but remains in the EU for the exchange of goods – and therefore provides for controls at sea (which the Twenty-Seven delegated to the British) between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Beyond the question of the controls he wants to remove, the Prime Minister expresses several demands, unacceptable for Brussels. Among other things, he refuses that his country can be subject to decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU (mechanism justified by the fact that Northern Ireland remains in the internal market). To the endian, the Prime Minister even threatens to activate Article 16 of the protocol, allowing its unilateral suspension, if Brussels does not agree to rewrite the text.
“A piece of the EU”
For their part, the Europeans do not fall into the bidding and say they are ready to make any effort to find a compromise. On condition, they hammer, not to compromise the peace in Ireland, nor to endanger the sacrosanct internal market, to which Northern Ireland could be an unfair gateway if the controls do not follow. “What is at stake here is a piece of the EU”, judge Elvire Fabry, of the Jacques-Delors Institute. The Commission, while ensuring the preparation of retaliatory measures against the United Kingdom, if the latter were to activate Article 16, therefore continues to negotiate with London.
It is now ready to substantially ease controls on goods coming from Great Britain and destined to remain in Northern Ireland, in particular the famous English sausage. In return, the Twenty-Seven want to be able to verify that these goods will not, in reality, be destined for the Republic of Ireland, and therefore for Europe… Given the deterioration in trust between Brussels and London, it is necessary to ‘This is a real gamble.
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The European Union confronted with Boris Johnson’s “endless Brexit”