By Mike Fuller, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) – Germany and Ireland have condemned the UK government’s move to unilaterally rewrite parts of the post-Brexit agreement with the European Union.
German Foreign Minister Analena Bayerbock and Irish counterpart Simon Cavani have said there is “no legal or political justification” for overriding agreed trade rules in Northern Ireland.
The ministers wrote in the British newspaper The Observer on Sunday that the ministers had said Britain would violate an international agreement that was only two years old and that they were not involved in “good faith”.
The so-called Northern Ireland Protocol in the agreement maintains an open border with EU member Ireland and frees customs posts.
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The administration of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to remove checks on products such as meat and eggs coming to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, which protects the European Union’s single market.
Lawmakers in London passed a law last week allowing the move.
Johnson’s critics, opponents and some members of his own party, along with European observers, say the plan violates international law. The government argues that it is justified because of the “really exceptional situation”.
Baerbock and Coveney said the bill would not fix the “challenge” around protocol.
“Instead, it will create a new set of uncertainties and make finding sustainable solutions even more challenging,” they wrote.
The foreign ministers also argued that the move endangered peace in Northern Ireland under the Good Friday Agreement, which has helped end decades of communal violence and has stood since 1998.
Johnson’s government hopes to pass the law, which will be debated again in Parliament on July 13 when the summer break begins at the end of the month. It could become law by the end of 2022.
The EU has raised the possibility of a trade war between the two major economic partners, threatening retaliation against the UK if it goes ahead.
Separately, Irish Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told the BBC on Sunday that this was not the “appropriate or right” time for an election for Irish reunification.
Varadkar said such a referendum, approved under the Good Friday Agreement, would be “divided and defeated” at the moment when a majority in Northern Ireland is considered “potential” for a united Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Assembly, its evolving legislature, has been crippled for months by the implementation of the protocol, leaving it without a regional government.
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