Irish FM: UK set to trigger Article 16 of NI protocol

The British government appears to be on the verge of triggering Article 16, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has said. [EPA-EFE/PHIL NOBLE]

The British government appears to be on the verge of triggering Article 16, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has said, warning that the EU may shelve its free trade agreement with the UK in response.

Speaking to RTÉ, Coveney said that London could invoke the mechanism to bring the two sides back to negotiations once the ongoing COP26 climate summit comes to an end.

“This would be a significant act that would damage relationships between Britain and Ireland and put extraordinary pressure on parties in Northern Ireland”, he said.

Such a move by the British government could place the EU-UK free-trade deal in jeopardy, he said, adding that while the EU is in “solutions-mode” and looking for compromise, the UK is “deliberately asking for what they know they can’t get.”

He also warned that British political parties should be aware of the magnitude of triggering Article 16.

On Sunday, Keir Starmer, leader of the UK’s opposition, said that he did not think invoking Article 16 would resolve outstanding issues to do with the protocol and that doing so would not be in the interests of communities or businesses in Northern Ireland.

(Molly Killeen | EURACTIV.com)

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