For 30 years, the intractable problems in Northern Ireland were resolved by adopting constructive ambiguity rather than allowing one party to gain a decisive advantage.
Diplomats say another dollop of constructive ambiguity is now exactly what is needed to resolve the latest deadlock over cargo controls between GB and NI, and the EU complains that the UK is not carrying them out according to a schedule agreed by Boris Johnsongovernment of last December.
The EU says failure to implement the plan, the Northern Ireland Protocol, leaves the EU’s single market potentially exposed to unfair competition and substandard food that could present risk for the health.
The UK responds that the EU is being inflexible even in calling for the implementation of the agreements to which it has signed, food standards are currently very similar and controls at the Irish Sea undermine the sense of identity and membership of the Unionist community in the United Kingdom at large – and therefore stability.
All of this is set to get worse when from July the UK government is supposed to put in place controls on more supermarket food – chilled meats – going to stores in Northern Ireland.
The UK is reluctant and is currently suggesting it could simply ignore this deal, which on Wednesday European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic made clear it could pave the way for fines, tariffs and the abolition of EU cooperation in other areas.
All parties will need to step back from these hard-line positions to overcome that last line – which means lowering the rhetoric and probably accepting that they will all have to turn a blind eye to some of the issues they are complaining about right now – if they want to avoid an all-out trade war between the UK and the EU.
But the opposite …
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This notice was published: 2021-06-09 16:46:00