European Court of Justice “cannot be excluded from agreement with Northern Ireland”

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In an interview with the Evening Standard, Joao Vale de Almeida hit back at Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who earlier insisted “that there should be no role for the ECJ in any part of the UK. .. and that includes Northern Ireland “.

The ambassador said: “For us it is not even a red line, it is an impossibility to have at the same time the benefit of the access to the single market of goods for Northern Ireland… and to the UK market. No other territory in the world can claim this opportunity.

“If you want to have access, like Northern Ireland, to the single market for the goods you need to play by the rules, you play by the rules. Any conflict that exists in the single market can go all the way to the European Court of Justice … so one goes hand in hand. “

But the arrangement creates a trade border in the Irish Sea, resulting in costly and time-consuming checks on goods flowing from Britain to Northern Ireland and exacerbating tensions between trade unionists in the region. On Wednesday, European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic announced a series of proposals to ease 80% of those controls and remove import blockages on chilled meats and medicines.

However, Britain’s demand to end the role of the ECJ in the Protocol and install a new independent arbitrator to rule on trade disputes remains a major stumbling block.

While Mr. Vale de Almeida suggested that there might be room for other “mechanisms” to resolve trade disputes, he added: “Ultimately, if there is a conflict, if there is a court must say the last word on the interpretation of European law, it is the European Court of Justice. “

Despite the disagreement over the ECJ, Mr Vale de Almeida told the Standard he was more “a glass half full than half empty” on the prospect of a resolution and insisted that the proposals for the Commission were an important step.

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