Von der Leyen tells Johnson UK must implement Brexit deal
The European Union told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday that it had to implement the Brexit deal he signed to secure the delicate peace in Northern Ireland and that the 27-member bloc was completely unified on this position.
The United States has expressed deep concern that a dispute between London and Brussels over the implementation of the 2020 Brexit Divorce Treaty could undermine the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement that ended to three decades of violence.
After the UK emerged from bloc orbit on January 1, Mr Johnson unilaterally delayed implementation of certain provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol of the deal and its main negotiator said the protocol was not sustainable.
“The Good Friday Agreement and peace on the island of Ireland are paramount,” said Ursula von der Leyen after a meeting with Mr Johnson and European Council President Charles Michel. “Both sides must implement what we agreed to.”
“The complete unity of the EU”
“There is total EU unity on this,” she said, adding that the deal had been agreed, signed and ratified by both the Johnson government and the EU.
The 1998 peace accord largely ended three decades of conflict between Irish Catholic nationalist activists and pro-British “loyalist” Protestant paramilitaries in which 3,600 people were killed.
Although Brexit is not on the official agenda of the Group of Seven summit in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay, it has been raised in meetings between Mr Johnson and EU leaders.
French President Emmanuel Macron has offered to restore relations with Britain as long as Mr Johnson sticks to the Brexit deal
Mr Johnson also met German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Brexit has strained the situation in the North: the EU wants to protect its markets but an efficient border in the Irish Sea created by the Northern Ireland Protocol cuts the North from the rest of the United Kingdom.
The protocol aims to keep the North both in UK customs territory and in the EU’s single market.
London says the protocol is not sustainable in its current form because of the disruption it has caused in the supply of daily consumer goods in the North.
The pro-British “unionist” community in the North says it is now separated from the rest of the UK and that the Brexit deal signed by Mr Johnson therefore violates the 1998 peace agreement. But the border open between the North and the Republic was a key principle of the Good Friday Agreement.
US President Joe Biden, who is proud of his Irish heritage, has made it clear that any measure jeopardizing the 1998 peace agreement would not be welcomed by Washington.