French minister warns UK over Northern Ireland

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BRATISLAVA, June 17, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – France’s Europe minister on Wednesday warned Britain against abandoning an EU agreement on post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland, warning it would create a “huge problem” and France was “ready” to respond.

“The UK is playing with the deal, not fully implementing it,” European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune told reporters, speaking on the sidelines of the Globsec Forum in Bratislava.

London and the European Union agreed a special “protocol” to govern trade with Northern Ireland as part of their divorce deal in order to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Britain has asked the EU to extend a grace period for implementing some rules on trade between mainland Britain and the British province.

The protocol is deeply unpopular within the pro-UK unionist community and lawmakers from the Democratic Unionist Party are pushing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to scrap the scheme.

“If the UK thinks about leaving the protocol, this is a huge concern, a huge problem that cannot be accepted,” Beaune said on Wednesday, adding: “No protocol means no deal”.

“If a party, whether the UK or the EU does not respect the agreement, we can take measures within the framework of the agreement.

“We are ready to do it. We are not happy to do it, we are ready to do it,” he said.