Ireland’s representative at the European Commission, Mairead McGuinness, was commenting on the potential for the country to be affected if it were to break up. Brexit A trading system designed to prevent hardening of the island’s land border.
Ms McGuinness also said UK and EU relations would be in a “very, very difficult place” if there was any truth to the claims made by the former. Downing Street Chief Advisor Dominic Cummings that the UK Government has always intended to abolish the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The European Union and Britain are set for an intense round of talks in the coming weeks after Brussels last week published a series of proposals aimed at cutting the red tape imposed on the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
However, the plan did not address a key UK demand – the removal of the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) oversight function in the conduct of the Protocol.
The UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost has warned that his government would be ready to suspend aspects of the protocol – by triggering its Article 16 mechanism – if it cannot find agreement with the bloc on how it works.
This has raised the possibility of the EU taking retaliatory action, potentially in the form of further sanctions on trade with the UK.
Ms McGuinness told RT One’s The Week in Politics that the focus on achieving a successful outcome of the talks was more important than the “what if” that could happen if talks broke down.
However, she added: “In the end if things break down and if there is a sense in which the United Kingdom is unwilling to agree to existing commitments or reach an agreement on a new deal, Europe certainly has.” Will have to act in the best interest of Europe. So I think that’s clear.
“As far as specific issues or where we can take action, I mean there are many ways to do it, we just don’t have the lists.”
Ms McGuinness was asked whether the Ireland member state would be the hardest hit if the protocol talks ended in failure.
“Certainly a reality and my colleagues in Europe and around the Commission understand that Ireland is in a very vulnerable position, because if things go wrong we can find ourselves in a difficult position,” she said.
“I don’t see any sense among member states that they want Ireland to be isolated or to feel vulnerable.
“But I’ll put a question on the UK side – I hope that’s not their intention, I hope they’re not using Ireland, as opposed to Northern Ireland, if you like, to redo things As for how to configure, because that won’t wash well either.”
Last week, Mr Cummings suggested the Westminster government had always intended to scrap the protocol it had signed as part of the 2020 Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
Ms McGuinness said the claim had left her “speechless”.
“How do you answer, if it’s true?” he said.
“How do you behave politically and in a democracy and in diplomacy, if that is a fact?
“If Dominic Cummings’ tweets are true, I think we are in a very difficult place. So on my behalf, representing the European Commission, we have to believe in good faith, because if we act in good faith , so we solve problems where they are.
“What troubles me is that sometimes on the UK side, when there is a solution they find a problem in that solution, and it is not progress. It goes back and forth to the detriment of people in Northern Ireland Happening. “