EU awaits counterproposals from UK in Brexit standoff

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union was awaiting a agency counterproposal from the United Kingdom on Friday to ease a standoff over tips on how to cope with Britain’s departure from the bloc.

Both sides are preventing over variations in tips on how to regulate commerce in Northern Ireland, which is a part of the U.Okay. but in addition belongs to the EU’s large single market in a Byzantine deal that proved important in the Brexit divorce negotiations.

Both sides acknowledge that deal is much from excellent and have been negotiating tips on how to enhance the motion of products to Northern Ireland from Britain with out giving London unfettered backdoor passage to the market of the 27-nation EU.

While EU Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic mentioned there was a “change in tone” for the higher in London, he added that final month’s EU compromise proposal to chop down on pink tape between Britain and Northern Ireland wanted to be reciprocated.

“We hope that action will follow the words,” he mentioned Friday.

His UK counterpart, David Frost, insisted that “there are a large number of issues that need to be fixed if we’re going to resolve this problem,” including that “there are still really quite significant gaps.”

Negotiations have dragged on for a month, with Britain threatening to droop elements of the legally binding divorce settlement between the 2 sides if no answer is discovered quickly.

Frost mentioned triggering an emergency break clause generally known as Article 16 stays an actual chance.

“If we can’t safeguard positions on the problems in Northern Ireland through negotiations, then Article 16 safeguards are there as well,” he mentioned.

Article 16 lets both aspect droop parts of the Brexit settlement in excessive circumstances. A transfer by Britain to make use of it will set off EU retaliation and will spiral right into a commerce battle between the 27-nation bloc and its more and more estranged former member.

Northern Ireland is a part of the U.Okay. and shares a border with EU member Ireland. Under the Brexit deal agreed earlier than the U.Okay. left the EU on the finish of 2020, it stays contained in the bloc’s tariff-free single marketplace for items to make sure there’s an open border on the island of Ireland — a key pillar of Northern Ireland’s peace course of.

That has created a brand new customs border in the Irish Sea for items getting into Northern Ireland from the remainder of the U.Okay., regardless that they’re a part of the identical nation.

It additionally has introduced pink tape for companies and angered Northern Ireland’s British Unionists, who say the checks undermine Northern Ireland’s place in the U.Okay. and destabilize the fragile political steadiness on which peace rests.

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