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Despite some movement, Protocol argument is far from over

3 16 9

Customs checks special offer: 50% off. The EU made a significant move this week, albeit one signalled for several months. But as nationalists and others bought in, half a sea border remained very much a sea border for many unionists.

There are several statements which need to be reiterated, however obvious, because a minority appears incapable of absorbing the messages. The EU was never going to abandon the Protocol. It was always going to protect the integrity of the EU single market. Brexit Minister Lord Frost has never demanded, nor expected, the wholesale removal of a treaty by which Northern Ireland would still, uniquely, operate under some EU rules, for goods in transit into the EU Single Market. Most products travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland do not constitute any threat to the EU single market. The UK is not interested in undermining that market.

The sum of those sentences ought to be an approach grounded in reason, not grandstanding: light-touch checks upon samples of goods embarked on a GB-NI-ROI journey. Given the constitutional sensitivities of even a modest trading sea border separating Great Britain from Northern Ireland – as contested in its own way as the partition of Ireland – it is evident that checks and controls need to be modest. Lo and behold, many of the checks the EU regarded as essential to protect its single market only a few months ago turn out to be non-essential. Just fancy.

Despite the EU’s shift, the sound of EU Commission Vice-President Maros Sefkovic........

© Belfast Telegraph

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