EU can resolve Brexit row to prevent no deal, say Irish foreign minister
The European Union can resolve the Brexit row with Britain over the Withdrawal Agreement to prevent the ‘nightmare” of no deal, Ireland’s foreign minister said on Monday. Simon Coveney blamed “hawks in No 10” for convincing Boris Johnson to table the Internal Market Bill, which disapplies treaty provisions on export declarations for goods travelling from Britain to Northern Ireland and subsidy law if there is a no trade deal exit at the end of the year. The European Commission has warned it breaks international law and jeopardises the trade negotiations with Brussels. “I believe we can solve some of the problems that I understand are there,” Mr Coveney said. The EU and the UK needed to focus on how to surmount the issues without renegotiating the treaty, he said. “That’s where the focus needs to be now so we can concentrate on the bigger prize which is the basic trade deal that avoids the nightmare scenario for Britain and Ireland, and to a lesser extent the rest of the EU, where by January 1 there is no deal in place.” “I think the British Prime Minister does want a deal, but he has a strange way of going about it,” he added. No deal would mean WTO terms, which “essentially means significant tariffs and potentially quotas”, Mr Coveney said. Leo Varadkar, the deputy prime minister of Ireland, said the negotiating tactic had “backfired”. “Countries all around the world, the United States and other countries, are wondering if this is the kind of place we can do any deal with or any treaty with,” he said. First Minister Arlene Foster accused the EU of treating Northern Ireland as a “bargaining chip” in trade talks between the bloc and the UK Government. She said striking a free trade agreement would solve the issues with the Northern Irish protocol which was agreed last year. Brussels warned farmers, businesses and animal welfare campaigners on Friday that it may be forced to ban all British exports of live animals and animal products to the EU and Northern Ireland. British cheese, eggs, pork, poultry and lamb would be made illegal in the EU, which would have “catastrophic implications”, the National Farmers Union said, as the RSPCA warned animals could suffer needlessly in long queues at borders. The EU ban on an animal products trade worth more than £3 billion in 2019 would also apply to Northern Ireland, which, under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, stays subject to EU animal health rules to prevent a hard Irish border after the Brexit transition period. It would also jeopardise British horse racing by making the travel of racehorses to and from Ireland and France too difficult and force pet owners to send a blood sample to an EU approved lab three months before taking their cat, dog or ferret to the bloc. On Sunday, David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator accused the EU of threatening UK food exports to Northern Ireland during the ongoing trade talks, which Michel Barnier has denied. European Commission officials, including a member of Mr Barnier’s team, told a meeting of trade associations and other stakeholders in Brussels on Friday that the ban was inevitable from January 1 unless the UK gives details of its future animal health and food safety regime. Unless the UK provides “full clarity” on the future rules and in particular its rules for imports, one EU official told the Telegraph, it would be impossible to add British animals and products to EU Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) lists for non-EU countries. “Unless they hear something by the end of October, it seems no animals will be listed – including pets – to enter the ‘EU SPS area’ which is the EU and Northern Ireland,” a source at the meeting said.