Irlande du Nord : le gouvernement britannique menace Bruxelles

Irlande du Nord : le gouvernement britannique menace Bruxelles

After weeks of speculation and rumour, the Johnson government moved on to explicit threats. Liz Truss, the British Foreign Secretary, confirmed in the House of Commons on Tuesday May 17 that she would formally table ” in the next weeks ” a bill unilaterally calling into question whole sections of the famous “protocol”. This crucial part of the Brexit treaty with the European Union (EU) establishes a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, in order to protect the integrity of the European internal market while preventing the return of a physical border on the island of Ireland.

“Our first choice is a negotiated solution [avec Bruxelles], but the discussions have been going on for eighteen months. We can’t wait any longer, the situation in Northern Ireland is serious. The protocol does not work, it is rejected by the loyalist community [fidèle au rattachement au Royaume-Uni]he undermined the Good Friday Peace Treaty [ayant mis fin, en 1998, à la guerre civile entre loyalistes et nationalistes, en faveur d’une réunification de l’île]. And it is making the cost of living crisis in Northern Ireland worse,” assured Truss to the Commons.

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London is in dire straits: the DUP, the main loyalist party, refuses to participate in the Northern Irish executive that should result from the legislative elections on May 5 as long as the protocol has not been abandoned – or largely amended. Loyalists claim the arrangement signed by the EU and Johnson’s government in 2019 is holding back the small nation’s economy and undermining their British identity. The nationalist party Sinn Fein, which came out victorious in the elections, is getting impatient: it fits perfectly with the protocol, but cannot appoint a prime minister as long as the DUP boycott lasts.

The European Union does not want to renegotiate

The changes to the protocol proposed by Liz Truss are very substantial. No more question of controlling the goods arriving from Great Britain if they are intended to remain in Northern Ireland. London is proposing to share its trade data with the EU, to track goods that would still pass through the Republic of Ireland (member of the EU), and to impose penalties on offending companies. “In this way, the European internal market will be protected”, claims the British minister. London also refuses the authority of the European Court of Justice over Northern Ireland. “Protocol is not set in stone,” added Truss, and modifications “do not constitute a violation of the country’s international commitments”.

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