As the political and diplomatic crisis centered on Northern Ireland takes on increasingly international dimensions, the European Union (EU) says its patience with the UK is “wearing very thin”.
The two sides are currently engaged in tense talks designed to avoid a trade war over Northern Ireland border checks.
If the talks are unsuccessful, exports of sausages and other chilled meats from the UK to Northern Ireland will be banned at the end of the month.
In a brazenly hostile move, the UK has indicated it is ready to ignore the ban in order to maintain smooth trade links with the north of Ireland.
The European Commissions’ Vice-President for interinstitutional relations, Maros Sefcovic, has warned that the EU could impose tariffs if the UK ignores the ban.
Speaking after a meeting with the UK’s Brexit minister, Lord David Frost, Sefovic said: “Today I can say we are at a crossroads in our relationship with the UK”.
"If the UK were to take further unilateral action in the coming weeks the EU will not be shy in acting swiftly, firmly and resolutely to ensure the UK abides by its international obligations", Sefovic added.
Accusing the UK of breaking the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol, Sefovic said that “trust” had to be restored before the current impasse could be broken.
Contrary to the stipulations of the protocol, the UK has resisted carrying out full checks on supermarket goods and parcels moving from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland, prompting the EU to launch legal proceedings last October.
The intensifying political crisis in Northern Ireland – which is in part attributed to deep divisions over the protocol – is drawing concern from around the globe.
Earlier today, US President Joe Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, said his country has “deep” concerns over the situation in the north of Ireland.