UK and the EU on brink of “sausage peace treaty”
- Has Brexit given the EU a false sense of security?
- Britain and the European Union make positive progress on “sausage war”
- French businessman Thierry Breton claims “the UK needs Brussels”
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel to go head-to-head with other EU nations
Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis believes that Brexit has given the European Union, Brussels particularly, a false sense of security by making the bloc appear unified.
During an interview with New Statesman, Mr Varoufakis warned that the EU is facing collapse, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbating issues between EU nations.
He also said that Brussels should be more concerned about the European Union becoming irrelevant as it could be hit by the renationalisation of policy if the bloc becomes fragmented.
The former Greek Finance Minister explained: “It may seem that the bloc has grown stronger following the UK’s exit due to the challenges of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, but this has given a false sense of security to the powers that be in the EU.
“Those in power are doubling down on policies that will eventually disintegrate the European Union – this paradox is becoming increasingly apparent.”
Mr Varoufakis highlighted the bloc’s debt, banking situation, growth projections and investment to explain the increased risk of fragmentation.
News of the bloc’s vulnerability to collapse comes as UK Environment Secretary George Eustice said Britain and the EU had made positive progress on the “sausage war” truce.
Britain and the EU closing in on “sausage peace treaty”
On Thursday, UK Environment Secretary George Eustice said Britain and the European were close to reaching a truce on the “sausage” dispute related to the fallout over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
According to the latest reports, London has applied for an extension to the grace period on allowing chilled meats to continue being shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, which was due to expire June-end.
UK officials said there had been positive indications that the EU and Britain would reach an agreement before the deadline as talks were heading in the right direction.
However, Downing Street revealed that they are yet to receive a formal response on the extension from the bloc.
Still, Cabinet minister George Eustice stressed: “We’re in dialogue with the EU to hopefully reach an agreement on the sale of sausages to NI and some longer-term solutions to the protocol issues.”
London and Brussels have been locked in a bitter dispute over the implementation of the NI protocol for months.
The Brexit divorce treaty was supposed to prevent a hard border between the UK and Northern Ireland. But since the end of the transition period, concerns have been raised over new trade rules alienating Ireland from the rest of the UK.
Tensions over NI protocol have forced many suppliers in Great Britain to become reluctant to export goods with NI due to post-Brexit charges and paperwork. In contrast, supermarkets have warned of product shortages due to struggling to access goods from the country.
The fraught political climate has triggered violent outbreaks and street disturbances across Northern Ireland, fuelled predominantly by loyalist youths.
Uproar over border disruption and trade issues saw Britain threaten to unilaterally suspend NI protocol, which sparked fury in Brussels.
Under the terms of the Brexit deal, the bloc could ban deliveries of chilled meats such as sausages and burgers from entering NI if the grace period is not extended.
According to recent reports, Britain has asked for a six-month extension on the grace period and agreed to commit to relevant EU safety rules for the duration.
However, Ireland’s leader-designate Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is calling for the disruptive protocol to be removed.
Will the NI protocol dispute be resolved?
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has also described the current situation as “unsustainable” and hopes that the UK government can solve the issue with our European neighbours.
An EU ambassador said that it was “encouraging” that London had applied for an extension rather than act unilaterally, noting the incredibly fragile relationship between the UK and the EU.
The EU diplomat said the move suggested that relations between both sides were improving and becoming more “constructive.”
Joao Vale de Almeida insisted that Brussels was turning “regulations on its head in efforts to reach a solution” to issues about the implementation of NI Protocol.
If Britain can reach an agreement with the bloc on NI protocol, this could also help quell domestic political tensions.
While the consequences of Brexit are yet to be fully seen, it has created great divides across the UK, with some Scottish ministers fighting for a second independence referendum.
Mr Almedia said that a possible solution to the “sausage war” would be for Britain to temporarily follow EU rules on fresh goods until we have the technological means to circumvent checks on goods.
Britain is believed to have submitted several papers to the European Commission noting possible solutions to NI protocol issues, but newswire reports suggest that the EU has left the UK in the dark.
NI Secretary Brandon Lewis said Downing Street was yet to receive a formal response from the EU on any proposals.
French businessman Thierry Breton has urged the UK to stop threats to act unilaterally on NI protocol or suffer the consequences.
Mr Breton argued that Britain needs the EU, highlighting the rapidly spreading Delta variant in the country and Britain’s reliance on the bloc for the PfizerBioNTech COVID vaccine.
Thierry Breton hinted that London must comply with the Brexit divorce treaty if the UK wants to continue receiving coronavirus vaccines.
His comments have sparked uproar among EU leaders, who have reiterated both sides’ positive progress on the issue.
EU leaders are also set to clash over travel across the bloc today after German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned Spain and Portugal for allowing Brits to enter their borders.
EU civil war: Member states turn against each other over travel restrictions
Earlier this week, German Chancellor Angel Merkel berated Portugal and Spain for allowing British travellers into their country when the infection rate in Britain is climbing.
According to recent reports, nearly nine in ten areas across the UK have seen a rise in coronavirus cases, with cases up 90% from the average two weeks ago.
Although 3 in 5 UK adults have been administered both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and more than 82% of the adult population has received one vaccine dose, Mrs Merkel lambasted the risks of letting UK holidaymakers into the bloc.
Mrs Merkel said that not being able to adopt a uniform approach to travel across the EU is “backfiring” and highlighted the deteriorating situation in Portugal, which she stated could have been avoided.
However, tourism-dependent states such as Spain, Portugal and Greece are expected to hit back at the German leader over her claims.
On Wednesday, a senior EU diplomat said: “It’s very easy for some countries to demand actions in sectors that affect themselves little.”
Today’s discussion will likely be highly intense, with some countries expected to advocate tightening restrictions on travel, which would create further economic challenges for tourism-dependent countries.
Although the European Union has not yet added Britain to the list of safe countries to travel to, British tourists travelling to Spain can do so without taking a PCR test, which has raised concerns among other member states.
With fears over the more transmissible Delta variant exacerbating, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will likely be the prime target for Mrs Merkel and other nordic EU leaders at the meeting today.
Under Germany’s COVID travel policy, Britons entering the country must register to visit and isolate for two weeks without any opportunity for an early test and release.
The UK has been accused of making matters worse by considering allowing football fans with tickets to the EURO 2020 finals entry into Wembley Stadium without quarantine when entering the country.
Although Britain has a superior vaccination programme and a lower daily COVID-induced death rate, warnings from the World Health Organisation (WHO) about the Delta variant becoming the globally dominant strain due to its transmissibility has set off alarm bells.
As of June 24th, 16,703 new coronavirus cases have been identified in Britain, and Europe is now bracing for an exponential surge in Delta variant cases.
According to Germany, the B.1.617.2 strain – which first emerged in India – could account for 90% of all COVID-19 cases in the European Union by late August.
There has been a total of 33,034,818 coronavirus cases reported across the EU/EEA and 736,553 deaths.