Brexit deal ‘limits’ UK’s ‘ability to be sovereign’ says Beaune
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Hardline Europe minister Clement Beaune insisted that Paris would demand legal action if the dispute over the implementation of the Brexit deal’s protocol to avoid a hard border isn’t resolved. He said: “We wouldn’t be happy to do it, but we would be ready to do it and respond.” French President Emmanuel Macron has insisted on a hardline approach to the implementation of the post-Brexit border fix.
He is demanding that Britain carries out EU-ordered customs controls on trade between the mainland and Northern Ireland to the letter of the law.
Downing Street has called for a much more pragmatic approach in order to protect the delicate peace process.
Mr Beaune, a close ally of President Macron, said that No10 should have expected the border controls after signing up to them in the 2019 Brexit withdrawal deal.
He added: “It’s a good deal, a balanced deal.
“It would be crazy to say now: ‘Oh sorry, we forgot to look at what Brexit means.’”
Eurocrats have previously threatened to impose trade tariffs on British goods unless Boris Johnson falls in line with their demands.
But yesterday it emerged Brussels is close to surrender in the sausage war, according to an EU insider.
EU chiefs are said to be considering plans to offer more time before imposing a blockade on sales of chilled meats from Britain to Northern Ireland.
The move comes after Brexit minister Lord Frost proposed extending the grace period on EU red tape to protect the NI peace process.
He told MPs: “I still hold out some hope they might agree.”
One EU insider told Express.co.uk: “We’re obviously not against it.”
France and Mr Beaune, however, are pushing for the EU to stick to the mechanisms in the agreement if the Prime Minister ignores the bloc’s sausage embargo.
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He also claimed the EU should take its time to grant so-called equivalence arrangements that would allow the UK’s financial services sector to keep operating on the Continent.
Paris believes this can be used to pressurise Downing Street into implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol using the EU’s hardline interpretation of the rules.
“We don’t really feel like rushing the process as long as the UK doesn’t give the impression that it keeps its commitments,” Mr Beaune said.
Former EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker has urged the bloc to cool tensions with Britain.
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The ex-European Commission president insisted eurocrats shouldn’t act in the “spirit of revenge” for our historical decision to quit the Brussels project.
Mr Juncker’s call for calm comes at a time when tensions between the EU and UK risk sparking a diplomatic crisis.
In recent months, his successor Ursula von der Leyen has threatened to blockade shipments of Covid vaccines headed for our shores and a trade war over Brexit rules for Northern Ireland.
Mr Juncker said: “British citizens have taken the historical decision to step away from European integration. That has been done, we have to respect that decision.
“And, frankly, we need a relationship with Britain.”
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