After the Prime Minister’s trip to Northern Ireland last week failed to trigger any concessions in the dead-locked political situation, the government has announced plans to table legislation that will scrap parts of the Northern Ireland protocol, in spite of fears that it could initiate a trade war with the EU.
While the EU could launch lengthy legal proceedings that could result in the UK being fined, the real fear is they may terminate the trade deal with the UK and impose tariffs on all British exports to the bloc. And Britain’s former ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, has warned that the threatened legislation wouldn’t even have to come into force, for the EU to think that it was entitled to retaliate.
Brussels wants to formalise proposals aimed at easing frictions on the border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to show that they provide workable ways around the impasse over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
EU officials are already working on a package of possible goods to hit with tariffs, although Brussels’ first step would probably be to restart legal action, that it paused in July 2021, for failing to implement full border checks in Northern Ireland.
While hopes remain that the EU will restart the legal proceedings that could result in the UK being fined, the real fear is they may terminate the free-trade deal with the UK and impose tariffs on all British exports to the bloc.
The imposition of tariffs could be triggered quite quickly and the EU could also increase invisible barriers like border checks, to disrupt Channel trade and even if the UK does not retaliate, there could be shortages and price rises, which would be deeply unpopular, at a time of rampant inflation, a cost of living crisis and looming recession.
The UK has already been ejected from the EUs flagship Horizon research and innovation programme, because it has no trust in the current government and the EU could take similar steps in other areas.
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