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The new British Foreign Minister recovers her tough tone in the negotiations with the EU

Liz Truss, on December 16 during an interview in Madrid. ALEX ONCIU

The Conservative Party of the United Kingdom has only one hammer – called Brexit – to do politics, and all problems seem like nails. London's relationship with Brussels has once again become the hostage to domestic political skirmishes. The new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Liz Truss, who has held for more than a year her favorite position to succeed the Prime Minister among the affiliated Tories, according to the website ConservativeHome, has resumed a speech harsh in tone to address the European Commission, referring to the stagnant and splintered negotiation on the Northern Ireland Protocol. After the resignation, at the end of last year, of David Frost as Minister for the EU, Truss personally assumed the dialogue with Maros Sefcovic, Vice-President of the Commission.

The exchange of roles coincided with the feeling – as it was interpreted in Brussels – that the Johnson government, overwhelmed with its internal crises and the threat of the omicron variant, was lowering its demands and was willing to seek pragmatism and conciliation in his negotiations with Brussels. Next Thursday Sefcovic and Truss will have their first face-to-face meeting, at Chevening House, the country residence in the county of Kent that is usually used as a resting place or venue for political meetings by the Foreign Minister on duty.

In an opinion platform published in the leading newspaper of the conservatives, The Sunday Telegraph (the Sunday edition of The Daily Telegraph ), Truss puts his cards on the table, for the EU to see, but also all those hard-wing eurosceptics of the party increasingly frustrated by the way in which the conquest of Brexit has deflated. And the Northern Ireland unionists, traditional allies of the British right, who face difficult regional elections in May, in which their voters are convinced that the Northern Ireland Protocol was a betrayal that alienated them even further from the United Kingdom. .

“As it is written today, the Protocol has lost the support of the unionist community, for their fear that Northern Ireland is separating from the rest of the UK, ”wrote Truss. “I am willing to work day and night to negotiate a solution. But I will be very clear: I will not sign anything that prevents the citizens of Northern Ireland from benefiting from the same tax or spending decisions that affect the rest of the United Kingdom, or that imposes controls on the goods that circulate through our country”. The minister recovers the threat of invoking article 16 of the Protocol, which allows part of its provisions to be unilaterally suspended if “serious economic, social or environmental difficulties” occur. And it is again demanding that any supervisory role on trade in Northern Ireland be taken away from the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). Exactly the same demands made by his supervisor, which led to the irritation of the EU, to the point that London and Brussels were on the brink of a trade war. “The problems that have arisen were caused by Brexit, and not by the Protocol . The Protocol has tried to mitigate the problems created in the region with the type of Brexit that was chosen ”, he told Sky News the EU ambassador in London, Joao Vale de Almeida. “We have heard this speech before. We are not impressed, but neither do we find it useful to be constantly waving the 16 ″ item.

Truss demands lowering Customs controls on goods traveling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are practically zero, and problems that arise are subject to independent arbitration, and not supervised and resolved by the CJEU. The Irish Protocol, an international treaty annexed to the EU Withdrawal Agreement signed by London and Brussels, and with the same binding force, was the formula that made it possible to untangle the Gordian knot of Brexit. When leaving the internal market of the EU, the land border between the United Kingdom and the European Union was the separation between the Republic of Ireland (community partner) and Northern Ireland, British territory. But the establishment of any customs control, any type of border on the island, endangered the peace reached by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ended decades of terrorism and sectarian violence. The agreement created the apt idea of ​​an invisible border, whereby Catholics and Protestants, Republicans and Unionists, freely cross each day under the illusion that they live on a single island called Ireland. To preserve that stability, London and Brussels agreed that customs control would be established in the Irish Sea, and that Northern Ireland, from de facto, would continue to form part of the EU internal market.

Foreign Ministry has now decided to maintain the hard line of its predecessor and demand the revision of a protocol that, however, Johnson had no qualms about signing at the time to carry out his long-awaited Brexit. Truss, who during the 2016 referendum clearly defended the position in favor of remaining in the EU, fell short of the horse and is now one of the strongest defenders of the potential promises that the UK is a lone actor again on the international scene. Promises, above all, for his own rising political career in the Conservative Party.

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