The president of the European Commission told Boris Johnson that the bloc “will not renegotiate” a key part of the Brexit deal that the two sides negotiated.
Ursula von der Leyen and Boris Johnson spoke on the phone Thursday, a day after UK officially made his pitch for a change the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The protocol is a key part of the Brexit agreement between London and Brussels and aims to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
As part of the deal, Northern Ireland remains subject to certain EU rules and checks are carried out on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
Some opponents of the protocol, including the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, want it to be scrapped altogether.
Others argue that the problems can be fixed without abandoning the protocol.
Brexit Minister Lord Frost said the UK and the EU “cannot continue as we do” and that there must be a “new balance” in post-Brexit trade deals between the Great Britain and Northern Ireland to ensure the smooth movement of goods.
He admitted that the burdens imposed by the mechanism “have been a source of considerable and permanent disruption to lives and livelihoods”.
However, Lord Frost failed to fully tear up the document or demand that the Article 16 provision – which allows the UK or the EU to suspend part of the arrangements in extreme circumstances – be triggered. .
Lord Frost said “it is clear that the circumstances exist to justify the use of Article 16” but that “now is not the right time to do it”.
But on Thursday, Mrs von der Leyen told the Prime Minister that if the EU will be “creative and flexible” on the protocol “we will not renegotiate”.
The President of the European Commission said Mr Johnson “called for the presentation” of the UK’s proposals.
“The EU will continue to be creative and flexible under the protocol. But we will not renegotiate,” she wrote on Twitter.
“We must jointly ensure stability and predictability in Northern Ireland.”
According to Downing Street, the Prime Minister “said the way the protocol currently works was not sustainable” during the couple’s conversation.
“Solutions could not be found through the protocol’s existing mechanisms,” a statement from Issue 10 said.
“This is why we made proposals for major changes.
“He urged the EU to seriously consider these proposals and work with the UK on them.
“There is a huge opportunity to find reasonable and practical solutions to the difficulties faced by people and businesses in Northern Ireland, and thus to put UK-EU relations on a better footing.”
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News on Thursday that the protocol was never “something that will last forever.”
“A deal is a deal, but it wasn’t something that was going to last forever,” he told Kay Burley.
“No one thought the Northern Ireland Protocol was going to define Northern Ireland’s role within the UK forever, it was flexible.
“You will recall that two years ago people said we would never get a deal with the EU, but we did.
“When people say they’re not going to review the protocol again, I say ‘well, let’s see’.”
According to the government command document, his proposals for the protocol include:
• Return to a normal treaty framework similar to all other international agreements
• Explore “exceptional arrangements” around data sharing and cooperation
• Introduce penalties to deter those seeking to move non-compliant products from Northern Ireland to Ireland
• Streamline trade and avoid controls at ports and airports in Northern Ireland
• Agree on a standstill period including the suspension of all legal action by the EU and the application of grace periods to allow continued trade in goods such as chilled meats, including sausages.
• Ensure that UK-EU relations are ultimately not controlled by EU institutions, including the European Court of Justice