The European Union’s “legal puritism” poses a risk to stability in Northern Ireland, the Brexit minister has said as he stressed the need for progress in talks this week.
Lord Frost has accused the EU of being inflexible in the dispute which risks making the situation on the ground “totally unsustainable”.
The Protocol has been the source of tension in unionist communities because it places a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, in the Irish sea.
Referring to the tensions Lord Frost said: “We are seeing political turbulence, with the loss of First Minister Arlene Foster, the change of the UUP leadership and street protests. And there are real world impacts on lives and livelihoods.”
The Northern Ireland protocol which Lord Frost helped to negotiate “underestimated the effect of the protocol on goods movements to Northern Ireland”, he admitted.
Writing in the Financial Times, he said some suppliers in the UK are now “simply not sending their products because of the time-consuming paperwork required”.
“We’ve seen manufacturers of medicines cutting supply. And there is less choice on supermarket shelves for consumers. The NI Retail Consortium has warned that when the grace period ends in October, supermarkets will face ‘real, severe problems’.”
The EU, which recently saw talks with Switzerland break down, “needs a new playbook for dealing with neighbours”, Lord Frost said, adding: “one that involves pragmatic solutions between friends, not the imposition of one side’s rules on the other and legal purism.”
Ireland’s minister for foreign affairs, Simon Coveney responded tweeting: “Lord Frost continues to lay blame for difficulty with Protocol at EU inflexibility. This is simply not the case. @MarosSefcovic &EU have consistently proposed new solutions.
“Is this about media messaging in UK or really solving problems together?”