DUP leader to meet with Maros Sefcovic

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is set to meet with the European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic.

Sir Jeffrey is expected to set out his party’s opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol during their virtual meeting on Monday morning.

The post-Brexit device was negotiated to avoid a hard border with Ireland by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.

Brexit
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic (EC/PA)

Unionists in Northern Ireland are strongly opposed to the additional checks on goods arriving into the region from Great Britain demanded by the Protocol, arguing it undermines the constitutional status of the United Kingdom.

Last week the DUP set out seven tests on the Protocol.

They include a promise of no checks on any sort of goods being sent to Northern Ireland from Great Britain and compatibility with the Act of Union which says all parts of the UK should be on equal footing when it comes to trade.

Monday’s meeting comes after Northern Ireland’s leading supermarkets wrote to Mr Sefcovic and the UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost calling for urgent action over trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Many of the additional checks under the terms of the Protocol have not been been enforced under a grace period.

The supermarkets welcomed extensions to grace periods but said “much more needs to be done before the end of September if there is not to be significant disruption to supply and an increase in cost for Northern Ireland consumers”.

The letter urged the UK and EU governments to enter discussions with British retailers, visit their supply chains and distribution centres, and host joint talks between government technical officials and retail supply chain experts to find a working solution.

It warned that “without swift, decisive and co-operative movement on this issue there will be disruption”, and called on Lord Frost and Mr Sefcovic to “help us to minimise this disruption and allow us to continue to provide the people of Northern Ireland with choice and affordability”.