Brexit battle: EU accuses UK of a ‘lack of graciousness’ in tense border row

Brexit: Lord Frost speaks of 'disappointment' with EU

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The EU Commission agreed to the extension of a grace period to allow chilled meats to continue to be moved to Northern Ireland until September 30 under the Protocol. However, there is still no agreement between the UK and EU on how to resolve disputes around the agreement in the long-term.

EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness, who stressed the grace period offer would make implementing the Protocol “easier”, claimed: “I think what’s been shocking is the reaction from the UK side.

“It lacks any graciousness, their response.”

She added: “It lacked grace frankly that there was no acknowledgement of the work we have done at EU level which really begs the question as to what the United Kingdom intends to do for the future.”

Ms McGuinness also raised concerns about the bloc’s future relationship with the UK after September when the extension to the chilled meats grace period expires.

The Eurocrat continued: “I would be concerned that after September, we will be back into this again where the UK is refusing to acknowledge what it signed up to in the Protocol and where the UK continues to point the finger at the European Union and accuses us of things.”

The bloc’s financial services Commissioner added that “politeness” and “good manners” mattered in dealing with the UK on the Protocol but stressed “plans would be revealed” if UK didn’t undertake some cooperative implementation of the Protocol.

It comes as Brexit Minister Lord Frost is preparing to announce the UK’s strategy for dealing with the Protocol which could have significant consequences for the relationship with the EU.

While declining to comment on the strategy, Lord Frost today hinted the agreement, which was negotiated to avoid a hard border with Ireland by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods, “isn’t sustainable in the way it’s working at the moment”.

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The Express understands the UK will focus on an approach which “respects” the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Lord Frost told the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee the only way to make the Protocol work was to “hugely reduce or eliminate the barriers between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, goods moving in that direction”.

He continued: “All options are on the table, we’ve always said that and keep saying it, and we don’t rule anything out.

“At the same time, what we haven’t yet tested is whether a fundamental rebalancing of the way the Protocol works is possible.

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“At the moment we’ve been talking about, with the EU, essentially, the problems that the current application has thrown up.”

The comments drop a hint that the UK will threaten this week to deviate from the Brexit deal unless the European Union shows more flexibility over the Protocol.

At the same time today, the leader of the DUP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson took part in a virtual meeting with European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic.

Mr Donaldson, who opposed the controversial trading arrangements, described his message to Mr Sefcovic as “simple – the Protocol has “not worked” and insisted the UK Government and European Union must renegotiate.

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