Northern Ireland firms face losing access to the single market when Protocol Bill becomes law

EU vice-president Maros Sefkovic has said that if Boris Johnson’s legislation to break the Northern Ireland Protocol becomes law, Northern Irish companies will lose access to the EU’s single market.

The former Slovak diplomat gave a clear indication that the key economic benefits of the protocol could be lost for some firms if Mr Johnson does not back down.

a long interview with Belfast Telegraph The paper was suggested by Mr Sefkovic, a sign the EU may be realizing of late that it needs to do more to explain its position directly to the people of Northern Ireland.

Asked whether undoing most of the protocols in the UK prime minister’s bill could cause local firms to lose access to the single market, Mr Sefkovic initially said: “I would not go that far and I would not speculate at this stage. But I have one thing to say: as you’ve probably noticed… we’re very proportionate in our response, very measured – because we want to keep the doors open, we want to negotiate, we want to find a joint solution. Want … drafted, of course, nothing is excluded; all options are on the table.”

However, in later interviews, Mr. Sefkovic was more outspoken. Asked about the possibility that the European Union would accept the removal of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) from the protocol, he said: “The European Court of Justice is there to rule on European law and the rules of the single market. This is the only approval of the Court of Justice.

“I can tell you with 100 pc certainty that I cannot imagine that there would be access to the single market for Northern Ireland without respecting the fact that the European Court of Justice is the final arbiter on the adoption of EU law and regulations. . Single market rules apply.”

In presenting the ECJ as a protection for the rights of Northern Irish businesses, he referred to the commission’s work last year to ensure that European ports provided full access to Northern Irish goods, adding that ECJ was the only comeback.

He added that the ECJ “will always rule to protect the rights of traders coming from Northern Ireland”. [who] The Europeans will keep their goods in the single market.”

Asked whether access to the Single Market is not possible without the ECJ, Mr Sefkovic insisted that “it is not we are proposing this measure and risking Northern Ireland’s access to the Single Market”. .

Mr Sefkovic said he “never heard of it as a real concern coming from stakeholders in Northern Ireland”.

However, polling for Queen’s University showed that 45 percent were concerned with the role of the ECJ – a figure closely related to the federalist vote.

Earlier this week, Irish independent reported that the EU has drawn up a hit list of goods that would be subject to tariffs in the trade war if Mr Johnson’s legislation is passed into law.

Brussels sources said items such as Scotch whiskey and the transportation of car components in and out of the English Midlands and north would be chosen in a deliberate attempt to hurt Mr Johnson in areas where his party won the 2019 general election. had earned. Mr. Sefkovic did not categorically deny that such a course is being considered.

He added: “I wouldn’t speculate about any retaliatory action because you know we’re not in the business of threatening everyone … is that we can’t exclude any action.”

Mr Sefkovic said the EU would not accept Britain’s suggestion that goods crossing the Irish Sea to stay in Northern Ireland should do so without additional bureaucracy.

The UK government and the European Union have similar proposals to introduce red and green lanes for goods arriving in Northern Ireland, with goods residing in Northern Ireland using the green lane and with more paperwork in the republic. With goods at risk of going in. More checks.

However, there is still a gap between the plans and in terms of additional checks and bureaucracy, Mr Sefkovic said, “I think it is always going to be something”.

“I think we can raise this to the minimum if we get great cooperation from our UK counterparts,” he said, perhaps checking a few dozen trucks every day under the ‘Trusted Merchant’ scheme.