EU leaders to pressure Boris Johnson on Northern Ireland in the G7
Boris Johnson will face new pressure from European leaders at a G7 summit in Cornwall to resolve post-Brexit tensions in Northern Ireland after the British prime minister refused to approve a plan to reduce regional border controls in line with EU food rules.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has sought to reassure Johnson that agreeing to mirror Brussels rules on food and animal controls would not hinder options for a future trade deal between the UK and the US. But Downing Street emphasizes that the idea is not initial.
Biden and Johnson examined the rules of trade in Northern Ireland previous encounter before the three-day G7 summit, which begins on Friday.
The UK leader told the BBC that Biden did not sound the alarm with his stance on the issue at Thursday’s meeting.
Johnson’s meetings with European leaders at the summit may not be so diplomatic. He will meet on the sidelines of the summit on Saturday with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Johnson will also hold bilateral meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He met Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Friday.
Macron, seen in London, is driving a harder line Question of Northern IrelandHe warned the G7 that it was “not serious” to reopen the Brexit agreement.
“I think it’s not serious to want to discuss it in July and review what we finished after years of work in December,” the French president said at a news conference on Thursday. “This is not a problem between the UK and France, it is a problem between Europeans and the UK.”
Although U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden had “deep” concerns about the state of the peace process in Northern Ireland, the issue did not dominate the president’s meeting with Johnson, UK aides said.
Instead, the British prime minister said the UK-US relationship was not “special” but “indestructible”, saying that having reached the stage of the Biden world – after four years of Donald Trump’s presidency – was a “fresh wind”.
The United States has been pushing Johnson and the EU to commit to implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol, part of Johnson’s Brexit agreement, which addresses the regional border issue.
The protocol leaves the border open on the island of Ireland – the Republic of Ireland is part of the EU – but imposes certain product controls on them from Britain to Northern Ireland if they pass into a single EU market.
Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic has again pressured Britain this week to agree on a “Swiss” model to significantly reduce the need for border inspections of Irish seaports by the UK to comply with Brussels ’food and agricultural controls.
The US has pushed Britain to accept this proposal. Yael Lempert, Britain’s oldest American diplomat, suggested to UK Brexit Minister David Frost this month that the deal would be backed by Washington.
Biden assured that “the chances of reaching a US-UK free trade agreement will not be negatively affected,” according to a British note at a meeting published by the Times. Downing Street has not denied the existence of the release, but U.S. authorities have stressed that the June 3 exchange was not an “increased” tone.
Britain has argued that it needs flexibility to set its own rules, especially in the sensitive area of agriculture, to ensure trade agreements with countries with different standards, especially the US.
But Johnson’s allies said Britain could never accept that it would be bound by Brussels rules. “It’s a matter of principle,” one said. “We’re not going to go that route.”
British officials stressed that if Britain applied EU agricultural rules, given the strength of the U.S. lobby in the U.S. Congress, the trade deal with the U.S. would be complicated.
But Biden has not shown much enthusiasm for the early trade deal with the UK in any way. “It was hardly discussed,” an official said of President’s talks with Johnson. “It’s not a priority for him.”
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