Brexit: Sefcovic outlines reform plans for NI protocol
Earlier this week, European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic proposed a set of measures to the UK aimed at resolving post-Brexit trade issues in Northern Ireland. These included slashing 80 percent of regulatory checks and cutting customs processes on the movement of goods between Britain and the island of Ireland. However, these proposals from the European Union have fallen a long way short of what the UK is demanding, who had been seeking wholesale changes to the Protocol.
Under the mechanism, the European Court of Justice would act as the final arbitrator in any future trade dispute between the two sides.
Britain now wants this key provision removed and replaced with an independent arbitration process - a demand the EU refuses to cave to.
But the insistence by Brussels that the ECJ must act as a final arbitrator in any future trade dispute has been brutally been torn apart by a Brexiteer.
Mike Mason OBE wrote on Twitter: "EU Ambassador to UK said in the context of NI: 'When you play football, you need a referee which is the ECJ'.
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"They really do not understand do they?
"When France play England the referee is independent and would not be French or English.
"The intellectual brilliance of Brussels!"
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John Bell (@PlasFron) replied: "Wonder if they would accept the UK Supreme Court as 'referee'?"
Twitter user King Arthur (@Antipolluters) wrote: "The word is 'independent'. It's not in the EU dictionary."
Colin Foster (@ColinFo20796554) commented: "Lack of sportsmanship and Corinthian spirit!
"It's why the UK is best joining with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Our culture and thinking is far more aligned."
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On Thursday, the EU's Ambassador to the UK had been responding to questions about the ECJ's role in Northern Ireland.
Speaking on Chopper's Politics podcast for The Daily Telegraph, João Vale de Almeida said: "If Northern Ireland is to remain and to continue to have access to our single market for goods, the European Court of Justice needs to be the ultimate jurisdiction. There is no way around that."
"We are talking about the internal market for goods and we are talking about the Northern Ireland Territory.
"We are not talking about the European Court of Justice having jurisdiction over the entirety of the regime of Law of the EU, neither on the entirety of the territory of the United Kingdom."
Making the football referee that Mr Mason had been eluding to in his tweet, the ambassador continued: "So let's be clear about what we are talking about, but you have to understand that when you play football, you need the referee.
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"The referee of the single market is the European Court of Justice."
Speaking ahead of a meeting with Mr Sefcovic in Brussels on Friday, the UK's Brexit minister acknowledged Brussels had made encouraging moves towards resolving a dispute over Northern Irish trade, but insisted it still wasn't enough.
He said: "I think the EU has definitely made an effort in pushing beyond where they typically go in these areas and we're quite encouraged by that.
"But obviously there is still quite a big gap. And that's what we've got to work through today and in the future."