Boris Johnson has been urged to start acting in “good faith” and to pursue “dialogue” in Northern Ireland Protocol negotiations by the German and Irish governments.
German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock and Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said in a joint statement that the UK’s move to unilaterally change the post-Brexit agreement “will not fix the challenges around the protocol … Instead, it will create a new set of uncertainties and make it more challenging to find durable solutions”.
Johnson’s government has introduced legislation that will end the majority of checks on goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
The EU says this is a breach of international law and Brussels have launched legal proceedings against the UK government.
The UK has argued that the protocol in its current form is causing political and economic tensions in Northern Ireland, and is damaging the Good Friday peace agreement.
In a joint opinion piece for The Observer, Baerbock and Coveney said: “Having heard genuine concerns from people in Northern Ireland, the EU brought forward proposals to simplify the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, changed its own laws to address concerns around the supply of medicines, and committed to giving stakeholders in Northern Ireland a greater say in how the protocol works.
“Unfortunately, the British government chose not to engage in good faith with these proposals. Instead of the path of partnership and dialogue, it has chosen unilateralism.
“There is no legal or political justification for unilaterally breaking an international agreement entered into only two years ago.”
Northern Ireland still follows the EU’s customs union and single market rules, unlike the rest of the UK, in order to prevent a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Protocol mandated that there would be checks on a range of goods – particularly food and live animals – crossing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland to protect the EU’s single market from unauthorised products.
This has led to onerous checks, which have led to major supply chain disruption and anger among unionist communities about the so-called border in the Irish Sea.