Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

‘Action calls for reaction’ EU ambassador warns UK over Brexit protocol row

Flags of the European Union and Great Britain fly together on College Green near the Palace of Westminster (PA)
Flags of the European Union and Great Britain fly together on College Green near the Palace of Westminster (PA)

Boris Johnson’s threats to rewrite part of the Brexit deal he signed would result in retaliation from Brussels, the European Union’s ambassador in the UK said.

Joao Vale de Almeida said there was no scope for reopening negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol and warned that “action calls for reaction” if the UK did go down the route of unilaterally tearing up parts of the deal.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has set out plans for legislation to amend the protocol to address concerns about the implementation of the deal.

The Prime Minister has insisted of his plans for the protocol, “we don’t want to nix it, we want to fix it”.

But the ambassador said: “It’s not very reassuring if you go into a negotiation where you are presented with two options – either renegotiation or unilateral action to override the treaty.

“This is not the best way to fix, this is rather a way maybe to nix.

“So if we want to fix it, which is what we want and I understand this is what the Government wants as well, we need to create a better atmosphere.”

There was “untapped potential” in the proposals set out by European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic in talks with the UK Government, he said, warning of retaliation if the UK instead chose to act unilaterally.

“There is still potential in the proposals that we’ve made, we would like to focus on that instead of going unilateral,” he said.

“Unilateral calls for unilateral. Action calls for reaction.

“And is that what we want, an escalation around Northern Ireland at this present point in time? I don’t think so.”

The ambassador told reporters in Westminster there was little prospect of the EU’s member states giving Mr Sefcovic a mandate to rewrite the protocol in his talks with Ms Truss.

“We were told that we should get a new mandate but I can tell you very clearly what the member states are telling us is very simple: You don’t need a mandate and even if you ask for one, you will not get it.”

He said there was a lack of trust between the two sides and there was little sign of a “happy ending” in the protocol saga.

“I’m worried by the low levels of trust that exist today between the EU and the UK, between our leaders, between all of us that are involved in this relationship,” he said.

He compared the protocol rows to a long-running drama: “I was hoping to see in this season of this saga … more creativity and hopefully a happy ending. I’m not seeing it for the moment and this is an area where I think things have not changed enough.”

Co-operation on issues such as the war in Ukraine and climate change showed how the two sides could work together.

But the ambassador said: “If I look at the wider picture of our relationship, our problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol have an excessively negative impact on the quality of our overall relationship and we need to overcome this situation.”

Downing Street said the EU’s proposals for fixing the protocol did not “address the problems that we know exist on the ground”.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “You will know that we have invited vice-president (at the European Commission, Maros) Sefcovic to London to hold further talks.

“The Foreign Secretary has been clear that the measures that are currently on the table won’t address the problems that we know exist on the ground in Northern Ireland, which is why we need to find new solutions.

“We remain committed to trying to reach a negotiated settlement.”