France and Germany fear the EU’s proposals to break the deadlock over the Northern Ireland Protocol could threaten the Single Market because of the dramatically reduced number of customs controls. Their concerns could mean the influential capitals eventually tie the hands of Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, and limit his ability to compromise in the negotiations, which begin in earnest next week. Paris and Berlin are spearheading a group calling for plans to prepare counter-measures in case talks fail and Britain triggers Article 16 to unilaterally suspend the protocol, which would leave another opening in the EU internal market. These are understood to include legal action and potentially trade tariffs. Their fears emerged after Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, yesterday unveiled plans to scrap the majority of checks on British goods crossing into the province under a revised Northern Ireland Protocol. The European Commission vice-president offered to reduce checks on food and plant products by up to 80 per cent and cut customs paperwork by half. European sources have told the Telegraph that member states overwhelmingly back the compromise but attitudes could soon shift if it doesn’t lead to a deal quickly. Now is the time for Britain… Read full this story
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