“London has broken a great deal of confidence” in Europe, the bloc’s chief negotiator has claimed.
European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic told German news website Der Spiegel that problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol – a way to maintain a free-flowing border on the island of Ireland after Brexit – meant Britain “broke international law” in trying to get around the event .
But he said he is still convinced that a compromise can be found between the two sides, even though he admitted it will not be easy.
Sir. Sefcovic told Der Spiegel that he is “pragmatic” about Secretary of State Liz Truss taking responsibility for post-Brexit negotiations with the EU after Brexit minister Lord Frost resigned earlier this month.
However, he warned that if Mrs Truss were to trigger Article 16, a step that would effectively unilaterally suspend the treaty agreed between Britain and the EU, it would jeopardize the “basis of the whole agreement” reached between the two sides. .
Mrs Truss has said she remains prepared to invoke Article 16 if problems are not resolved.
But Mr Sefcovic said: “This is a very distracting element in the discussions. You are trying to achieve something together and – bam – there is the threat of Article 16 again.
“It touches on the fundamentals of our relationship.
‘The Northern Ireland Protocol was the most complicated part of the Brexit negotiations, and it is the basis of the whole agreement. Without the protocol, the entire system will collapse. We must prevent that at all costs. “
He added: “London has broken a great deal of the trust that we must first rebuild. But I believe we can find a compromise.
“The EU and the UK are strategic partners – and they should treat each other as such.”