The first minister of Northern Ireland has issued a scathing review of the EU’s actions over the issue of post-Brexit Ireland, as Brussels threatens the UK with legal action after London made unilateral changes to the agreement.
Speaking on Friday, Northern Ireland’s first minister, Arlene Foster, said that the EU is not interested in the issue of peace on the island of Ireland. “What they’re only interested in is protecting their bloc, they’re not interested, as they claim to be, in protecting the Belfast agreement,” Foster told BBC radio.
“If they were, they would not be taking the action that they’re taking at present,” she noted, adding that the ongoing rows and threats between London and Brussels were “totally disproportionate” to the issues, mostly concerning trade, being faced.
“We need [the protocol] to be replaced because certainly extending grace periods are only sticking plasters to what are really fundamental problems in terms of trade,” she said.
The Northern Ireland Protocol, which works to allow the frictionless movement of people and goods on the island of Ireland by introducing a series of customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, has been a persistent area of disagreement in the two months since London and Brussels agreed on a post-Brexit accord.
On Thursday, Maroš Šefčovič, the European commission vice president, said that the EU would be launching imminent legal action against the UK following London’s decision to unilaterally delay implementation of the Brexit deal which relates to Northern Ireland.
On Thursday, RTE also reported that the EU had elected to shelve a vote on the ratification of the Brexit deal following London’s move.
The EU’s actions relating to the island of Ireland have been heavily criticized. In February, London slammed the EU after the bloc briefly elected to trigger article 16, which would have seen a land border created on the island of Ireland to prevent Covid-19 vaccines from leaving the EU.