The talks of the week took place in a constructive spirit. While there is some overlap between our positions on a subset of issues, the gaps between us remain substantial.
As we noted earlier, the EU’s proposals represent a welcome step forward but do not liberalize the movement of goods between Britain and Northern Ireland to the extent necessary for a lasting solution. They also fail to engage in necessary changes in other areas, such as subsidy policy, VAT, and protocol governance, including the role of the court.
Our position remains that substantial changes to the protocol will be necessary if we are to find a lasting solution that works in the best interests of Northern Ireland and supports the Belfast Agreement (Good Friday).
Lord Frost and the Vice-President, along with their teams, will meet in Brussels next week.
Lord Frost also conveyed to the Vice President our concerns over unwarranted measures announced by France earlier this week to disrupt UK fisheries and wider trade, threaten energy supplies and block further cooperation between the UK and EU, for example on the Horizon research program.
Lord Frost made it clear that if these actions were implemented as planned on November 2, they would put the European Union in violation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (ACT).
The government is therefore considering the possibility, in these circumstances, of initiating a dispute settlement procedure under the ATT, and other practical responses, including the implementation of rigorous enforcement processes and controls on the subject. EU fishing activity in UK territorial waters, under the ATT.