Minister complains EU 'slow' in talks to change Brexit arrangements

Boris Johnson (right) with George Eustice.

Boris Johnson (right) with George Eustice. - Credit: PA

The EU has been “slow to engage” with discussions over how to solve issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, environment secretary George Eustice has complained.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There are lots of ways to give the European Union the assurance that they say they want for their single market, and what we should be doing is working together to identify ways forward.

“And that’s where the European Union have been quite slow to date to engage.”

Rather than complaining about the UK's approach to Brexit, as originally reported, Eustice insists US president Joe Biden will think the EU is being overly “bureaucratic” when he talks to the prime minister.

“I suspect that any US administration would be amazed if you were to say, for instance, that a sausage from Texas couldn’t be sold to California, there would be an outright ban – they really wouldn’t understand how that could even be contemplated.”

Speaking on Sky News, Eustice said that the EU needs to "respect" the Northern Ireland Protocol.

He said: “What you have to bear in mind is that the Protocol always envisaged that both parties would show best endeavours to make the Northern Ireland Protocol work, and that included recognising that Northern Ireland was an integral part of the UK and that you should support the free flow of goods to Northern Ireland.

“What we really need the EU to do is to respect that part of the Protocol and put in place sensible measures to remove things like the nonsensical ban on selling sausages or chicken nuggets to Northern Ireland – not just requiring paperwork, but actually having an outright ban on some of those goods – that clearly doesn’t make sense.”

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He added: “We’re committed to making it work but we just need the European Union to engage in that process to iron out those issues.”

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