The EU let its “mask slip” when it moved to over-ride part of the Brexit agreement on Northern Ireland to control shipments of coronavirus jabs.
After invoking Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol on Friday evening, the bloc later reversed the decision following an outraged reaction in London, Dublin and Belfast.
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has said the EU set a “precedent”.
His party has been voicing opposition to the Protocol on a number of grounds, including issues facing hauliers and the military facing additional checks while bringing equipment into Northern Ireland.
“I think that the mask slipped on Friday night because the EU and others had been lecturing everybody … that there could never be under any circumstances whatsoever any kind of hard border on the island of Ireland, and that to do anything to over-ride any of the Protocol provisions would be an anathema, and then in one fell swoop on Friday night it did both of those things … never mind the fact that it was aimed at vaccines, which is aimed at helping people overcome this terrible Covid pandemic,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme.
“I think that what what the EU has now effectively done is set a precedent that has said that in circumstances where their single market is in danger and there’s a potential threat, then the provisions of Article 16 can be triggered and, indeed, in their statement withdrawing Article 16 now, they made it clear that they reserve the right to use it and other instruments going forward.
“I think that the British government now has the opportunity to look at what the problems are between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the societal difficulties and economic difficulties, the EU cited as the reason for Article 16 are far more pertinent and far more in play in Northern Ireland given the problems with parcels, foodstuffs, medicines all the rest of it, and therefore the government now needs to look at what it can do to alleviate the problems between Great Britain and Northern Ireland that get rid of some of the insidious effects of this wretched Protocol.”