EU, Britain on course for new showdown on Northern Ireland protocol

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A man waves Union flags from a small car as he drives past Brexit supporters gathering in Parliament Square, near the Houses of Parliament in central London on January 31, 2020 on the day that the UK formally leaves the European Union. - Britain on January 31 ends almost half a century of integration with its closest neighbours and leaves the European Union, starting a new -- but still uncertain -- chapter in its long history. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)
A man waves Union flags from a small car as he drives past Brexit supporters gathering in Parliament Square, near the Houses of Parliament in central London on January 31, 2020 on the day that the UK formally leaves the European Union. - Britain on January 31 ends almost half a century of integration with its closest neighbours and leaves the European Union, starting a new -- but still uncertain -- chapter in its long history. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

The European Union and Britain appear locked into a confrontation course as neither side is satisfied with the implementation of post-Brexit trade arrangements in Northern Ireland.

With the new system causing major headaches and fuelling tensions in in the British-administered territory, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and Britain’s David Frost met in London on Wednesday to try and break the deadlock to no avail.

“Our patience really is wearing very, very thin,” Sefcovic told reporters after the talks, stressing that further legal action or even tariffs could come if the deal is not fully implemented.

A statement sent out by Frost noted that patchy progress had been made, adding that the British government “continues to consider all options available.”

Brussels claims London is yet to put in place a number of checks on goods agreed by both sides as part of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, while London accuses the bloc of inflexibility as it grapples with a major transition.

At the end of the month, a deadline relating to chilled meat exports between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom kicks in.

British sources have however indicated the government could unilaterally extend the grace period for the new rules on sausages and burger shipments. London extended grace periods once before, prompting the European Commission in March to take legal action, which is still ongoing.

Trade barriers were created between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom after Britain left the EU single market in December. This was seen as a better option than creating a barrier between Northern Ireland and its neighbour, the Republic of Ireland, which is an EU state.

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