EU ready to cave on Brexit deal as Frost told ball in UKs court ahead of crunch talks

Brexit: Lord Frost hits out at EU over Northern Ireland Protocol

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The post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol has been the centre of a row between the EU and UK, with Lord David Frost threatening in recent weeks to suspend the agreement. However, in a bid to avoid triggering a suspension of the deal, the EU is prepared to offer more concessions to the UK.

Part of the concessions offered to the UK by the bloc includes cutting customs checks.

Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, customs checks are carried out on goods coming into the country from Britain.

In October, the EU offered adjustments that would have slashed customs checks into the territory by half and cut sanitary inspections on many retail goods including ham and sausages by 80 percent.

The deal was rejected by Lord Frost, who demanded the removal of the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) oversight of the trade agreement.

According to reports in The Telegraph, Mr Šefčovič is prepared to offer more concessions in Northern Ireland if Lord Frost shelves demands to scrap the ECJ’s role in policing the agreement.

A European source told the outlet: “We’ve moved and it’s time for the UK to as well.

“The percentage of controls removed could yet increase, through negotiation.”

The vice-president is set to warn on Friday a deal won’t be possible unless the UK drops its “unattainable” demands on the role of European judges.

It comes ahead of Lord Frost and Mr Šefčovič’s fourth meeting on the deal in London.

Speaking ahead of the talks, a senior Commission official accused Lord Frost of taking a “significant step in the wrong direction” and said the UK would have to drop its demands before a deal can be struck.

The source said to the Telegraph: “We will continue to be solution oriented and will continue to engage in this discussion.

“We hope that the UK will take the step towards us to allow these talks to succeed.”

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In October, Lord Frost insisted removing the ECJ’s oversight of the Northern Ireland Protocol was critical to easing tensions between Britain and Brussels.

He said in Lisbon: “The role of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland and the consequent inability of the UK government to implement the very sensitive arrangements in the protocol in a reasonable way has created a deep imbalance in the way the protocol operates.

“Without new arrangements in this area, the protocol will never have the support it needs to survive.”

A British official also told the Financial Times at the time: “If the EU can’t show ambition and agree on significant changes to the Protocol, we will have to use Article 16 to make sure arrangements are in place that do safeguard the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and the peace process.”

It comes as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned the UK the US supports the bloc’s stance on the Brexit deal.

After meeting with Joe Biden at the White House, Ms von der Leyen insisted the US President backs Brussels in the row.

She told reporters: “I think that President Biden and I will share the assessment that it is important for peace and stability on the island of Ireland to keep the withdrawal agreement and to stick to the Protocol.

“This Protocol has managed to square the difficult circle that Brexit caused. And now Northern Ireland has access to both markets that have access to the single market, the British single market as well as the European single market.

“Therefore, the situation is a positive one. And we want to do everything to cut red tape to be as flexible as possible within the Protocol.”

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