Great Britain has been adamant in the dispute with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol. Shortly before the EU Commission wanted to present new compromise proposals in Brussels on Wednesday, Brexit Minister David Frost threatened again with a unilateral suspension of the agreed customs regulations for the British province. On the other hand, proposals for a “revision” of the protocol, which Frost presented on Tuesday, amount to an extensive abolition of the previous regulations.

In a speech in Lisbon, Frost reiterated that the agreement “was drawn up in extreme haste at a time of great uncertainty”. In view of the “big problems” that it “quite obviously” causes, fundamental innovations are needed. He warned the EU of the “historical misjudgment” that the protocol could no longer be improved. Then London would trigger the clause to completely repeal the agreement.

One of the most contentious points in relationships

The Northern Ireland Protocol is one of the most contentious issues in post-Brexit relations between Brussels and London. The regulations stipulate that no customs controls are carried out between the British province and the EU member Ireland. Instead, there should be controls between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Customs controls at the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would, according to both Brussels and London, jeopardize the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which ended the decades-long Northern Ireland conflict.

However, critics of the Northern Ireland Protocol believe that the regulations create a de facto border within the UK and that supplies to Northern Ireland are suffering. The British government wants to renegotiate the protocol. The EU refuses to renegotiate, but according to Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic it is ready to look for solutions within the framework of the protocol.

EU wants to present compromise proposals on Wednesday evening

Sefcovic should submit appropriate compromise proposals on Wednesday evening. It was expected that the Commission would offer relief for the flow of goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, such as relaxed control requirements or exemptions for certain goods. From EU circles it was said that the main focus would be on drugs and pesticides to be imported to Northern Ireland.

Frost said the London proposals were “in line” with the previous Northern Ireland Protocol but contained “significant changes”. According to this, goods should be able to circulate almost unhindered. In addition, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) should no longer be the final instance responsible for monitoring the rules. Both are considered unacceptable for the EU.