Trade war between the EU and UK would ‘very damaging’ says Taoiseach calling for substantive negotiations on Northern Ireland Protocol

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin warned that a trade war between the EU and UK arising out of London’s unilateral action over the Northern Ireland Protocol would “very damaging” for everyone involved.

r Martin’s stark warning came as he again urged the British Government to re-engage with Brussels – and not to take unilateral action after controversially publishing legislation in Westminster last Monday which will allow London to override elements of the protocol.

He said Ireland remains in close contact with EU leaders with Brussels having recommenced legal action this week against Britain over its rejection of elements of the Northern Ireland deal.

Legal action had been paused to allow for London and Brussels to hammer out an agreement over the workings of the protocol.

“A trade war would be very damaging all round in relation to the economies of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Europe,” the Taoiseach said.

“But as I said earlier, the immediate focus now should be on commencing substantive negotiations between the United Kingdom government and the European Union in respect to the operation of the protocol.”

“And that is our focus. Obviously, if the UK government pursues a unilateralist track without any engagement, well, that would then create challenges and real problems between the EU and UK. Nobody wants that.”

“I’ve been in regular contact with (EU Commissioner) Maros Sefcovic and with (Commission) President Ursula von der Leyen – they are anxious to engage on the detail and other technical issues around the protocol.”

“(They) have been, by the way, for quite some time, (they) would have come forward with proposals last October, those proposals weren’t really reciprocated.”

“But it’s time now for the UK Government to engage with the EU on the detail of all of this.”

Mr Martin said Ireland was operating in close consultation with the EU and the individual leaders of EU member states.

“I think it is important and I have been in close contact with EU leaders over the last number of weeks in relation to the protocol and potential action by the British government.”

“I think this (legal action) represents a step-up in in the response from the EU.”

“That said the EU is still available and wants to bring a resolution to issues arising from the operations of protocols through substantive negotiations with the UK government.”

“The only logical and rational way forward is, in my view, to commence these negotiations between the UK government and the EU.”

“I would appeal to the UK government to engage in such negotiations because it’s extremely important that yes, we deal with the issues that have arisen, but we also make sure that we underpin economic growth and development in Northern Ireland.”

“As I said yesterday, and over the last number of days, for many sectors of Northern Ireland industry (the) protocol has been advantageous particularly in terms of manufacturing, and the entire agri-food industry.”



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