New tensions around Northern Ireland. The British government threatened on Thursday 12 May to act unilaterally in the absence of “flexibility” of the European Union to ease post-Brexit customs arrangements in Northern Ireland, which is plagued by political paralysis. A statement deemed unacceptable by Brussels. Citing in particular political tensions in the British province and disruptions in trade with Great Britain, the British government wants to renegotiate in depth the protocol signed at the time of its exit from the EU, while Brussels says it is only ready to amenities.

“If the EU does not show the flexibility to help solve these problems, then as a responsible government we will have no choice but to act”, warned the head of British diplomacy, Liz Truss, during a telephone conversation with the vice-president of the European Commission Maros Sefcovic, according to a spokesperson for her ministry. She said in a statement that “The situation in Northern Ireland is a matter of internal peace and security for the United Kingdom”.

A question that paralyzes the institutions of Northern Ireland

In the absence of progress in the negotiations underway for several months, London had already threatened to unilaterally suspend part of the text, which could trigger severe European trade retaliation. Expressing his “deep concern” and defending “common solutions”Maros Sefcovic for his part warned that a “unilateral action” of London, which would consist “effectively not to apply an international agreement”was not “not acceptable” for the EU.

The dispute paralyzes Northern Irish institutions. The Unionists of the DUP, now the second force in the local Assembly after the victory of the nationalists of Sinn Fein, refuse to share power if these customs controls between Great Britain and Northern Ireland are not abandoned, seeing them as an attack on the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom.

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