The EU has refused to respond to a call by the British government to remove the European Court of Justice from the Brexit deal with Northern Ireland.
The British minister, Lord Frost, had called for an amendment to the protocol that would have denied the bloc’s highest court the final say in disputes – even though he had only signed it two years ago.
However, the change was missing in particular in the proposals published by the EU on Wednesday evening for the revision of the Northern Ireland Agreement.
At a press conference in Brussels, Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s head of Brexit, told reporters: “It is very clear that without the supervision of the European Court of Justice we will have no access to the internal market.”
As part of the deal, Northern Ireland will have special access to EU markets to keep its brother with the Republic of Ireland open. But the protocol, which has been heavily negotiated for years, is creating problems for trade with Britain across the Irish Sea, and Britain has called for changes.
Mr Sefcovic said the EU had developed a “robust package of creative, practical solutions to help Northern Ireland cope with the consequences of Brexit” and announced that he had invited Lord Frost to lunch on Friday to discuss them.
But refusing to refer to the UK statement that the jurisdiction of the court is a red line, he stated, “I think our goal today is to stay positive, stick with the benefits that this package has and which ones which provides dual market access for Northern Ireland.
“I believe the picture presented today is such a compelling picture that we will really focus all of our constructive and creative energy on making this as good as possible for the people and businesses of Northern Ireland. So I want to focus on this positive agenda, I want to focus on the solutions, and I hope Lord Frost will support me. “
Mr Sefcovic said that the ECJ had only been addressed once in all discussions with people in Northern Ireland about the protocol. The EU’s Brexit chief, who took over after Michel Barnier’s resignation, said the bloc had “turned our rules upside down and turned upside down” in an attempt to find new solutions.
The proposals presented by the European Commission on Wednesday afternoon provide for a reduction in random checks when crossing the Irish Sea by 80 percent and a streamlining of the certificates that truck drivers have to submit from up to a hundred to just one.
Restrictions on “chilled meat” such as sausages would also be relaxed, customs papers for finished goods would be halved and restrictions on the transport of medicines across the Irish Sea would be abolished.
And the Commission says the light-touch approach will only work if the UK honors its previous commitments to build new border inspection posts and gives Brussels real-time access to trade data.
In response to the proposals, a UK government spokesman said: “The EU has now published its proposals in response to those in our Command Paper. We study the details and of course we will consider them seriously and constructively.
“The next step should be in-depth discussions on our two proposals, which should be held quickly to determine whether there is a common basis for finding a solution.
“Significant changes that address fundamental issues at the heart of the Protocol, including governance, need to be made if we are to achieve a lasting agreement that will require support in Northern Ireland.
“We need to find a solution that all sides can bring behind them for the future, that will secure the Belfast Agreement (Good Friday) and that will put UK-EU relations on a stronger footing. We are ready to work hard on this. “