Talking Europe - 'The problem is Brexit, not the Northern Ireland Protocol', says MEP David McAllister

Talking Europe – ‘The problem is Brexit, not the Northern Ireland Protocol’, says MEP David McAllister

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In a tumultuous week for British politics, European Union lawmakers are continuing to appeal for Westminster to resume post-Brexit talks. Leading German-British MEP David McAllister is chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, and closely involved in Brexit-related issues on the EU side. He told FRANCE 24 that he “very much regrets” moves by the British government under outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to unilaterally breach parts of the post-Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland. “This protocol was mutually agreed and painstakingly negotiated over many months, and in the end ratified by both sides.” 

McAllister emphasised that the Northern Ireland protocol “is not the problem, the protocol is part of the solution”.

“The problem is and remains Brexit and especially the very hard form of Brexit the UK government chose. […] I ask the UK government to return to the negotiating table […] but we shouldn’t question the protocol in general, the protocol cannot be renegotiated.”

Meanwhile, the MEP underlined the need for the EU member states to reduce their dependency on energy imports from Russia after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned of a potential “complete cut-off of Russian gas” to the EU this winter. He urged unity among Western allies and continued efforts to end the war.

“We have to show a very clear stance towards the Kremlin. The Russian Federation is carrying out a most brutal, violent aggression towards an independent sovereign country. We are showing solidarity in all areas with Ukraine. Diplomatic efforts are also required. It’s good that heads of governments and member states talk to Mr Putin, try to get a message across, but unfortunately, in the moment, he is not listening to our messages.”

McAllister acknowledged criticism of Europe’s response to earlier Russian aggression against Ukraine, including the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

“Once this war is over we’ll have to thoroughly analyse how to deal with the Russian Federation, which – as long as President Putin is in power – will be a serious threat to our European peace and security architecture. We will also have to analyse how we co-operated and what we didn’t do right in dealing with Russia. It’s no secret that many members of the European Parliament were critical of the project Nordstream 2.”

He referred to the 2014 illegal annexation of Crimea as “a major step which should have led to a different policy towards the Russian Federation”.

Produced by Perrine Desplats, Luke Brown and Isabelle Romero


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