LONDON (Reuters) – The European Union will not give a new mandate to renegotiate post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland agreed as part of the Brexit deal, the bloc’s ambassador to London said on Thursday.
Britain is lining up a new law that would effectively override parts of a Brexit deal and has said that the bloc’s refusal to budge on its negotiating mandate for the talks is “hugely disappointing”.
Speaking at an event in Westminster, the EU ambassador, João Vale de Almeida, said that the EU would stick to its existing mandate for the talks with Britain.
“We were told that we should get a new mandate, I can you very clearly what the member states are telling us is very simple, you don’t need a mandate, and even if you ask for one you will not get one,” Almeida said.
The two sides have been trying for months to overcome a deadlock over the Northern Ireland protocol, which sets the trading rules for the British-run province that London agreed before it left the EU but now says are unworkable.
Britain has been threatening to rip up the protocol for months, raising the risk of a trade war with Europe at a time of soaring inflation and prompting concern across Europe.
Almeida said he was worried by the low level of trust between the two sides. He said one of the problems was the way Britain has only presented the EU with two options: renegotiate, or it will take unilateral action to override the protocol.
“I am worried by the low levels of trust that exist today between the EU and the UK, between the leaders,” he said. “We absolutely need to raise the levels of trust to create the conditions for better cooperation.”
(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, writing by Alistair Smout, Editing by Kylie MacLellan)