LONDON (AP) – The British Brexit minister predicted on Monday that relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union would continue to be “bumpy” amid tensions over post-election Brexit trade deals.
David Frost noted that so far negotiations with the EU to find out the problems “are not very effective.”
“I think it will be a bit bumpy for a while, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” he told the House of Commons European Studies Committee.
As Britain made its last economic break from the 27-nation alliance by the end of 2020, both sides blocked EU fishing rights in British waters under new Northern Ireland trade agreements.
Brexit trade rules have introduced customs և border controls on some goods transported from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK. The agreement was intended to avoid scrutiny by Northern Ireland’s “EU member Ireland” as the open Irish border facilitated a peace process that ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland.
But the new arrangements have angered British trade unionists in Northern Ireland, who say they weaken ties with the rest of the UK and put a heavy burden on business.
Britain unilaterally decided to postpone some inspections of agri-food products, and the EU responded by launching legal proceedings.
Frost said there was “some status” for the arrangements in Northern Ireland, and urged the EU to show “pragmatism”.
The alliance insists that Britain must abide by the legally binding agreement negotiated by Frost, with which it agreed last year.
Frost said Britain և the EU should make progress before the summer, which is traditionally a time of great tension in Northern Ireland as protesters march in large numbers.
Tensions over new trade rules were a contributing factor to a week of street violence in the cities of Northern Ireland last month, in which young people smashed bricks, firecrackers and fireworks.
“Coronavirus restrictions are coming to an end, we all know that late spring and summer in Northern Ireland can sometimes be stressful … so that fact must be taken into account,” Frost said.
“I would like to feel that we were making progress with the EU at the time.”