Germany and Ireland have condemned the UK government’s move to unilaterally rewrite parts of the post-Brexit agreement with the European Union.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her Irish counterpart Simon Coveney said there was “no legal or political reason” for rejecting the agreed trade rules in Northern Ireland.
Writing in Britain’s The Observer on Sunday, ministers said Britain would break a two-year-old international agreement it had not joined in “good faith”.
The so-called Northern Ireland Protocol in the agreement maintains an open border with EU member Ireland and no customs stations.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government wants to lift checks on goods such as meat and eggs arriving in Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, in order to protect the EU’s single market.
Lawmakers in London passed legislation allowing movement last week.
Johnson’s critics, opponents and some members of his party, along with European observers, say the plan violates international law. The government argued that was justified because of the “really exceptional situation.”
Baerbock and Coveney said the bill would not fix the “challenges” surrounding the protocol.
“Instead, it will create a new set of uncertainties and make it harder to find lasting solutions,” they wrote.
The foreign ministers also said the move jeopardized peace in Northern Ireland under the Good Friday Agreement, which ended decades of sectarian violence and lasted since 1998.
Johnson’s government had hoped to pass the legislation, which will be debated again in Parliament on July 13 by the time its summer break begins at the end of the month. This could become law by the end of 2022.
The EU has threatened to retaliate against Britain if it continues, raising the prospect of a trade war between the two major economic partners.
Separately, Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told the BBC on Sunday that this was not the “right or right” time for a poll on Irish unity.
Varadkar said such a referendum, allowed under the Good Friday Agreement when a majority in Northern Ireland backs a united Ireland seen as “probable”, would be “divisive and divisive” fail” at this time.
The Northern Ireland Assembly, the legislative body it developed, has been paralyzed for months by the implementation of the protocol, leaving it without regional government.