Macron warns Johnson to keep his word about Northern Ireland


French President Emmanuel Macron has warned Boris Johnson that efforts to reset relations between Paris and London depend on the British prime minister keeping his word on the Brexit deal in Northern Ireland.

The EU has threatened to punish Britain – including imposing trade sanctions – if Johnson unilaterally violates border checking commitments under the Northern Ireland Protocol, part of its Brexit agreement.

At a breakfast meeting on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Cornwall, Macron made it clear that he expects Johnson to honor the Brexit agreement reached with the EU last December.

Downing Street sees Macron as the EU’s strongest leader on the issue. Quarrels between French presidents and British prime ministers at global summits are frequent – and often play out well in the country.

But Macron’s warning underscored the seriousness with which the EU views the growing crisis in Northern Ireland.

Joe Biden, the American president, did signaled his deep concern over the future of the peace process.

A source from the Elysee said that Macron told Johnson at a breakfast meeting in Carbis Bay that he was ready to reset relations with London and that Britain and France had many common interests.

“The president, however, has strongly emphasized that this re-engagement requires the British to honor the promises made to Europeans and to honor the Brexit agreement,” said a source in the Elysée.

The protocol requires Britain to check certain goods moving between the UK and Northern Ireland to avoid the unchecked crossing the open border to Ireland, an EU member, and into the single market.

The introduction of an effective trade border on British territory enraged pro-British unionists in Northern Ireland and increased tensions in the region.

Johnson claims the EU is adamant in the way it applies the protocol, and Dominic Raab, Britain’s foreign minister, has accused Brussels of being “bloody minded”.

Later this month, a conflict is approaching over exports of chilled meat products across the Irish Sea; The EU only allows trade in frozen meat. At the end of June, the “grace period” expires, which will enable the continuation of the sale of British sausages, ground beef and chicken pieces in NI.

Johnson has left open the possibility of unilaterally ignoring the ban in a move the EU has warned could retaliate under the terms of an EU-UK trade and co-operation agreement.

Maros Sefcovic, Vice-President of the European Commission, confirmed last week that this could include trade sanctions, instilling fear of a trade war or – in tabloid headlines – a “sausage war”.

Johnson also spoke on Saturday morning with Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, and European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Downing Street said after the meetings that Johnson was “confident” in his firm line of protocol and agreed with his European counterparts that there was a need to find a solution “quickly”.

A Johnson spokesman said “all options are on the table” if solutions are not found; Downing Street did not rule out the suspension of parts of the protocol. He added that none of the European leaders explicitly mentioned the threat of trade sanctions against Great Britain.

Von der Leyen said in a tweet that the Good Friday Agreement and peace on the island of Ireland are paramount.

“We have negotiated a protocol that preserves this, signed and ratified by the United Kingdom and the EU,” she said. “We want the best possible relationship with the UK. Both sides must implement what we have agreed on. There is complete EU unity on this issue. “

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