EU calls for long term solution to Northern Ireland’s Brexit issues
• Maroš Šefčovič (VP of European Commission) has called for a resolution to be found by the end of the year, noting that he hoped to avoid the triggering of article 16, which “would force the EU to react”. A diplomat also explained that the EU’s options could include targeted trade retaliation, in the worst-case scenario.
• Šefčovič also debated at the General Affairs Council as to whether the UK was a trustworthy partner, with Clement Beaune (French Europe Minister) suggesting the UK was a close ally but was not fully respecting the Brexit agreement.
• Lord Frost (Brexit Minister) has warned that the EU agreeing to additional “flexibilities” will not be enough to resolve the current crisis.
• Boris Johnson has shown “willingness” to find a solution, according to the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, with whom Johnson met last week. Johnson claimed that Rutte offered to mediate in discussions, something Dutch diplomats were quick to push back against.
• The EU Executive is expected to outline by the end of September plans that facilitate the movement of goods after Brexit.
France urges EU to increase pressure on UK over fishing rights
• Jean Castex (French Prime Minister) called on Ursula von der Leyen (European Commission President) to consider heightening pressure on the UK by using economic levers to force a fishing compromise.
• This is particularly urgent considering that the temporary arrangements around the Channel Islands are due to come to an end on September 30.
• The dispute centres on rights to licenses in the English Channel for fishermen based on the Normandy coast, who say they face unreasonable restrictions. The tensions led to a blockade of Jersey last year. Annick Girardin (French Minister for Maritime Affairs) threatened to cut off the electricity supply to Jersey.
Dutch seek pragmatic approach on EU-UK security co-operation
• Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte met with Boris Johnson at Downing Street, discussing bilateral trade and defence cooperation, with Johnson also outlining details of the new AUKUS alliance between Britain, Australia and the US and explaining its importance to stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
• Whilst neither AUKUS nor the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy are officially aimed at countering China, the underlying motivation is evident.
Other EU-UK NEWS
• Former top aide to the British Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings has described former EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier as “emotional,” “lazy” and a “bullshitter.”
• His remarks were in reaction to a tweet from Andrew Adonis, a former British Cabinet Minister and now Labour member of the House of Lords, who said Barnier’s book “My Secret Brexit Diary,” which is about to be released in English, “reinforces my view that Brexit was a catastrophe for Britain — Barnier was better than all Britain’s negotiators put together and ran rings around Lord [David] Frost.”
• Elsewhere the UK Government has pledged it will legislate to allow British traders to sell their wares in pounds and ounces, rather than grams and kilos, as it unveiled plans to seek a deregulatory dividend from Brexit.
• The move was announced by the UK Brexit Minister, as part of a drive by Number 10 to seek “Brexit opportunities” following a government task force looking for deregulatory dividends and includes allowing publicans to reintroduce the Crown Stamp on their glassware.
• Meanwhile the EU citizen exodus from the UK continues with the number of EU nationals living in the UK dropping by 200,000 in 2020, the year that the UK left the bloc, according to data published on Friday (17 September) by the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS).
• A Romanian MEP has called on the European Commission to intervene following the release of data suggesting that UK border officials could be conducting racial profiling against Romanian and other east European states.
• The MEP’s call follows data released by the UK government which shows that more than 7,000 EU citizens have been stopped and questioned at ports by British border officials since freedom of movement ended in January, of which 60% were from Romania.
• In response, the UK Home Office has denied that it is practising any bias by nationality.
• In the interim, the British Transport Secretary has announced that vaccinated travellers from Europe will no longer have to take pre-departure Covid-19 tests or expensive day 2 PCR tests when heading to England.
• As of October 1, all travellers from the European Union and the European Economic Area are required to be in possession of a passport when entering the UK — just like everyone else from other countries.
• The change in policy is likely to affect school children who come to the UK in large groups from Europe for annual trips, often using ID cards the most.
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