Dominic Raab said “the ball is in the EU’s court” regarding the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol, while French President Emmanuel Macron has warned Britain that the agreement on Brexit was not renegotiable.
The foreign minister told Sky News that the EU must be “less purist, more pragmatic and more flexible” on the issue, adding that the bloc’s approach “poses a risk to the Good Friday deal”.
Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden “did not dwell” on Brexit issues when they met in person for the first time on Thursday and it was the Prime Minister who raised the issue, Mr. Raab.
“The Prime Minister and the President have addressed the Northern Ireland Protocol and we understand the interest of the United States as a long-standing guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.
Mr Raab said the prime minister was able to explain that “we want a flexible and pragmatic approach”.
“But for this to happen, the EU must be less purist, more pragmatic and more flexible in its implementation,” said the Foreign Minister.
“The ball is in the EU’s court over that.
“Frankly, the Prime Minister and the President didn’t dwell on this, there were so many other things that were discussed.”
He continued: “There was a respectful conversation. The Prime Minister wanted to raise it and be very clear about our position.
“It is the dogmatic and purist approach taken by the EU that poses the risk to the Good Friday deal.”
The foreign minister’s comments came as French President Emmanuel Macron told a press conference that “nothing is renegotiable, everything must be applied” as he prepares to visit the UK. United for the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.
The protocol effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the single European goods market in order to avoid a hard border with Ireland, which means a trade barrier in the Irish Sea for goods crossing Great Britain.
But The UK’s exit from the EU has severely tested the peace in Northern Ireland.
The 27-nation bloc wants to protect its markets but a border in the Irish Sea cuts off the British province from the rest of the UK.
Although Britain officially left the EU in 2020, both sides are still threats on the Brexit deal after London unilaterally delayed the implementation of the North Irish clauses of the agreement.
Mr Macron told reporters: “I think that’s okay – wanting to review something in July that was finalized in December after years of discussions and work.”
“We have a protocol,” he continued. “If after six months you say that we cannot respect what has been negotiated, then that says nothing can be respected. I believe in the weight of a treaty, I believe in seriousness. Nothing is negotiable. . Everything is applicable. “
After his first summit talks with Mr. Biden, Mr Johnson downplayed the differences with Washington on the impact of Brexit on peace in Northern Ireland.
The Prime Minister hailed Mr. Biden as “a big breath of fresh air” because he wanted to work with London on a wide range of issues from climate change and COVID to security.
Mr Johnson said the US, UK and European Union were “in perfect harmony” in finding solutions to enforce the 1998 peace agreement.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said “there will always be” a problem with the protocol and called for finding “practical solutions”.
“On some level this is an intractable problem and I think the only way they can solve it is to tackle some kind of tax on practical issues and see where Northern Ireland could in any case. how to stay aligned with European regulations and where there may be areas where it doesn’t matter that Britain also complies with European regulations in order to create that border, ”he told Sky News.
When asked if he agreed with Mr Raab’s comment that the EU needs to be ‘more pragmatic’, Mr Blair added: ‘The EU would turn things upside down.
“There is no point in starting some sort of megaphone negotiation with the other party, you have to sit down and try to find a solution.
“But I think there will be huge resistance in Europe to abandon the protocol because it’s not as if the protocol has been negotiated without there being a clear understanding of what it means.
“Now, like I said, I don’t think it’s possible to remove the protocol. I think what could happen is that you find, like I said, these practical ways – and hopefully that will happen, otherwise it will cause real tensions in Northern Ireland. “