EU not listening! Frost rejects Brussels Brexit compromise offer – Not addressed issue

Brexit has 'forced issue' of Irish unification says expert

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The Government said the European Union’s proposals to maintain supplies of medicines in the region don’t go far enough to alleviate concerns of shortages. It comes after the European Commission published a so-called “non paper” detailing its proposals to protect shipments of drugs between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. But a UK Government spokeswoman said Brussels’ plans were insufficient for the scale of the problems facing the area.

Downing Street has called for a wholesale renegotiation of the Brexit deal’s protocol to avoid a hard border.

To avoid a hard border, Northern Ireland essentially remains part of the single market, with numerous checks on goods shipped by the rest of the UK.

British officials are concerned that the EU-ordered red tape in the region is having a chilling effect on trade with Britain.

And Unionist communities are furious that the measures, which have created a border in the Irish Sea, are driving a wedge between them and the rest of the UK.

The Government says it is only by engaging in Britain’s demands for a renegotiation of the Northern Ireland protocol can the EU can truly protect peace and stability in the region.

The spokeswoman said: “It is crucial that the people of Northern Ireland have access to the full range of medicines as all other parts of the UK.

“The solution the EU has set out today remains the same as the one they sent to us in late June – the EU has not addressed the issues and concerns that we have raised with them.

“The EU’s proposal was a welcome start but it would be complex to operate, onerous and would not deal at all with those medicines, such as new cancer drugs, which under current arrangements must be licensed by the European Medicines Agency in Northern Ireland.

“That is why we have proposed in our Command Paper that the simplest way forward in order to avoid these problems in future is to remove medicines from the scope of the Protocol altogether.”

Brexit minister Lord Frost has said he will consider triggering the Protocol’s Article 16 clause to suspend the measures if Brussels doesn’t agree to major changes in the legal text.

The Commission has proposed rewriting EU laws to allow UK regulators to approve medicines destined for consumption in Northern Ireland.

As the price for the concession, this must be done strictly in adherence to the bloc’s rules and regulations.

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Eurocrats also suggested separate measures to assist the movement of guide dogs between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as cattle.

But the Government has also given short shrift to the proposals, saying they need to go further before the protocol is operating in a sensible way.

The spokeswoman said: “It’s good to see the Commission engaging and acknowledging that changes are needed to how the Protocol is currently operating.

“The issue is that what the EU is presenting as a package of solutions is in fact only a small subset of the many difficulties caused by the way the Protocol is operating. We need comprehensive and durable solutions if we are to avoid further disruption to everyday lives in Northern Ireland – as we have set out in our Command Paper.”

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The EU’s offers are part of a package of concessions by the EU tabled in the hope of ending the row over the implementation of the Brexit deal’s protocol to avoid a hard border.

They came yesterday after warnings that about 2,000 medicines currently offered to patients in Northern Ireland could be withdrawn as drugs manufacturers grapple with EU red tape.

EU Brexit chief Maros Sefcovic said: “These solutions have an unambiguous common denominator – they were brought about with the core purpose of benefitting the people in Northern Ireland.

“Ultimately, our work is about ensuring that the hard-earned gains of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement – peace and stability in Northern Ireland – are protected, while avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland and maintaining the integrity of the EU Single Market.”

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