EU contempt laid bare as border checks delays blamed on bloc’s ‘absurd political move’

Peter Bone discusses Chris Bryant's Brexiteer retweet

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On Monday, Britain rejected the European Commission’s proposals for “solutions” to ease trade friction between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain. The two papers, which had previously been shared with the UK as well as EU countries, included proposals covering medicines as well as food safety checks — also known by the technical term sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) — and the movement of assistance dogs for disabled people. A UK spokesperson said the papers did not address all the problems and called for “comprehensive and durable solutions.”

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol has created an “unsustainable” situation and called for a renegotiation — an appeal that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen immediately rejected.

Some of the EU proposals include the easement of movement of assistance dogs accompanying persons travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, as well as “to simplify the movement of livestock” between both parts, according to the Commission.

The document also seeks “to clarify the rules on EU-origin animal products that are moved to Great Britain for storage before being shipped to Northern Ireland.”

The UK spokesperson commented on the paper, saying: “What the EU is presenting as a package of solutions is in fact only a small subset of the many difficulties caused by the way the Protocol is operating.

“We need comprehensive and durable solutions if we are to avoid further disruption to everyday lives in Northern Ireland — as we have set out in our Command Paper.”

As tensions are set to rise in the incoming weeks and disruption in Northern Ireland continues, an interview with Prime Mr Johnson’s trade adviser, Shanker Singham, has resurfaced, in which he suggested the majority of the delays and chaos is due to Brussels refusing to do a “mutual recognition agreement” with London.

As it stands, New Zealand appears to have a closer relationship on SPS measures with the EU than Britain, with an agreement that limits checks and simplifies paperwork.

Mr Singham, the CEO of economic consultancy firm Competere, told Express.co.uk earlier this year: “New Zealand and the EU have a veterinary agreement on meat products, which is actually a very good agreement.

“It is a mutual recognition agreement of underlying product regulation.

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“So, even though New Zealand and the EU have different SPS regimes for meat, they recognise each other’s underlying product regulation.”

The trade expert noted: “So much for the view that the EU doesn’t do mutual recognition… it does.”

According to Mr Singham, there is no reason why Britain cannot have the same agreement with the EU.

He added: “If you do that with New Zealand, which has got a different SPS regime, why would you not do that with the UK, which at the moment has got the same?

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“Pretty absurd the EU did not put that in… it’s a very political move and it made no sense.

“But anyway, we will be negotiating such a thing in the future. We have a roadmap.

“So it will be quite easy for us to negotiate a similar agreement.”

New Zealand is recognised worldwide as a reliable SPS partner.

The New Zealand veterinary agreement, signed in 1996, provides for the recognition of the legislative controls applied to animal diseases by trading partners.

This reduces the compliance costs of New Zealand’s industry meeting requirements such as animal health certification assurances, and contributes to improved market access for the country’s products to Europe.

It also recognises meat and dairy inspection systems in New Zealand as equivalent.

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