Whitehall officials believe the EU has reverted back to its failed tactics, last seen in the post-Brexit trade negotiations, in another bid to ensnare the UK. No10 chiefs are disappointed and frustrated that Brussels has not learnt from Britain’s insistence that the bloc should not be able to meddle in the affairs of a sovereign nation. Our negotiators are baffled as to why their EU counterparts still believe aligning to the bloc’s food and animal safety rules provides an immediate answer to the row over Northern Ireland.
The move risks triggering a sausage trade war between the two sides despite attempts to avert a full-blown diplomatic crisis.
Brussels boss Ursula von der Leyen has tried to cool tensions and said she’s “deeply convinced” a fix can be found.
But any deal could be scuppered by hardline EU nations “expressing more and more worries” about the lack of controls between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sources have said.
Previously, Michel Barnier, the EU’s former Brexit negotiator, attempted to bounce Britain into playing by his rules as the price for progress in the negotiations.
Brexit minister Lord Frost refused to play ball and ensured Britain left the bloc as an independent nation with a free-trade agreement once rebuffed by the Frenchman.
Downing Street insiders believe the EU is cynically using Northern Ireland to atone for Mr Barnier’s concessions.
A host of member states – especially France – were massively frustrated with their former wrangler’s failure to force Britain to copy and paste their food standards.
A UK Government source said: “There is a range of problems around the question that the UK should simply dynamically align to EU legislation.
“It doesn’t really take into account the political realities at both ends. There is more than a whiff of protectionism about it all.”
EU chiefs have claimed 80 percent of the trade checks at the heart of the row over Northern Ireland could be eliminated if Britain adopts the bloc’s standards.
But speaking ahead of her trip to the G7 summit in Cornwall, Mrs von der Leyen appeared to show a willingness to compromise and place more importance on the Good Friday peace agreement.
She told reporters: “The European Union is determined to make the Protocol work for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland, and we’ve bent over backwards for years to find a solution on that.”
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The insider said: “The PM has been pretty clear that he can’t see a reason why we shouldn’t be able to sell the British banger in Northern Ireland.
“The biosecurity risk is zero. We don’t see why there should be a problem with that.”
And another British official dismissed the EU’s claims that chilled meats, such as sausages or burgers, are a threat to the bloc’s market.
They said: “We have no evidence that sausages from the rest of the UK pose a risk to biosecurity in Northern Ireland or the environment.”