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Thursday, October 21, 2021

France and Germany fear EU’s Northern Ireland Protocol plan could threaten Single Market

The European Commission vice-president offered to reduce checks on food and plant products by up to 80 per cent and cut customs paperwork by half.

European sources have told the Telegraph that member states overwhelmingly back the compromise but attitudes could soon shift if it doesn’t lead to a deal quickly. 

Now is the time for Britain to clinch a deal because the bloc is preoccupied with a number of internal issues, they said, before warning French president Emmanuel Macron would not want to be seen to go soft on the UK too soon before elections in April next year. 

An EU diplomat said: “This is the time to do a deal. The closer we get to the French elections, the harder it will be for the Commission to offer compromises.”

The EU also has to contend with the prospect of soaring energy prices and the threat of “Polexit” after the role of European judges was questioned in Poland.

‘Brexit is a nuisance’

Domestically Germany, Australia and the Czech Republic are all without proper governments after recent elections and a corruption scandal in Vienna.

A second diplomat said: “Brexit is a nuisance. Nobody wants to talk about Brexit. Nobody has the time and space to consider it.

“Britain has won the boredom war. It has shown it has capacity to endure more boredom than Brussels, which is no mean feat.”

A lack of willingness to engage with Brexit by European capitals has enabled the Commission to table a package of concessions, which Government sources said went further than the UK had expected.

João Vale de Almeida, the EU’s ambassador to the UK, told the BBC: “What we have done, what we have presented in Brussels, is unprecedented, what we have done goes very… We have gone the extra mile to address the problems that were created by Brexit in Northern Ireland.”

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