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UK employers urge Johnson not to sacrifice #Services in #EUDeal

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Britain must not exclude its huge services industry from a planned trade deal with the European Union as the price for reclaiming control over its economy, a group representing British employers said on Monday (24 February), writes William Schomberg.

The Confederation of British Industry urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to secure a post-Brexit deal that will not leave out service industries, such as finance, something many employers fear if London and Brussels stick to their guns.

Avoiding costly red tape and customs complexities were also vital for goods companies, the CBI said.

Britain and the EU are expected to begin talks for a trade deal next month, leaving little time before a post-Brexit standstill period expires on Dec. 31.

Most economists polled by Reuters this month thought the most likely outcome would be a goods-only deal.

Relations between Johnson and some business groups have been strained by his dismissal of their concerns about Britain’s exit from the EU.

Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director-general, said British companies backed many of the government’s objectives for the negotiations, such as securing zero trade tariffs and allowing free flows of data.

“In other areas, how the government strikes the balance between access and control is less clear,” she said. “All efforts must be made in these talks to save exporters time and money, avoiding new paperwork, costs and delays.”

The CBI said it accepted that its once favoured scenario of Britain remaining in the EU’s customs union was now dead, posing challenges for the world’s fifth-biggest economy.

London and Brussels are far apart on key issues, chief among them Britain’s insistence that it must be free to set its own rules for business while the EU wants a so-called level playing field on issues such as the environment and state aid.

The CBI said it agreed with the government that Britain had to be able to seize new opportunities by setting regulations for emerging technologies in areas such as artificial intelligence, digital payments and quantum computing.

“But for the UK to truly be spear-heading this new frontier, its world-leading industries must not be distracted by significant new burdens on their exports,” it said.

Brexit

UK tells EU on Northern Ireland: Be responsible, be reasonable

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Britain's Trade Minister Liz Truss walks after the ceremony of State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions, in London, Britain, May 11, 2021. REUTERS/John Sibley

Britain's trade minister on Wednesday (16 June) called on the European Union to be responsible and reasonable in a row over the implementation of Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit divorce deal, write Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden, Reuters.

"We need the EU to be pragmatic about the checks that are undertaken and that was always the way the protocol was drafted," International Trade Secretary Liz Truss (pictured) told Sky News.

"It requires compromise between the parties, and the EU need to be reasonable," Truss said.

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Brexit deal risks undermining Northern Ireland peace, says UK's Frost

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The historic US-brokered 1998 Irish peace agreement has been put at risk by the implementation of the Brexit divorce deal in the British province of Northern Ireland, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top Brexit negotiator said on Wednesday (16 June), writes Guy Faulconbridge.

The United States has expressed grave concern that a dispute between London and Brussels over the implementation of the 2020 Brexit treaty could undermine the Good Friday accord, which effectively ended three decades of violence.

After the United Kingdom exited the bloc's orbit on 1 January, Johnson has unilaterally delayed the implementation of some provisions of the deal's Northern Ireland Protocol and his top negotiator has said the protocol is unsustainable.

"It's super important that we keep the purpose of the nature of the protocol in mind, which is to support the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and not to undermine it, as it risks doing," Brexit Minister David Frost (pictured) told lawmakers.

The 1998 peace deal largely brought an end to the "Troubles" - three decades of conflict between Irish Catholic nationalist militants and pro-British Protestant "loyalist" paramilitaries in which 3,600 people were killed.

Johnson has said he could trigger emergency measures in the Northern Ireland protocol after its implementation disrupted trade between Britain and its province.

The protocol aims to keep the province, which borders EU member Ireland, in both the United Kingdom's customs territory and the EU's single market.

The EU wants to protect its single market, but an effective border in the Irish Sea created by the protocol cuts off Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom - to the fury of Protestant unionists.

Frost said London wanted agreed solutions to enable the Protocol to operate without undermining the consent of either broad community in Northern Ireland.

"If we can't do that, and at the moment, we aren't making a lot of progress on that - if we can't do that then all options are on the table for what we do next," Frost said. "We would rather find agreed solutions."

Asked if the Britain would invoke Article 16 of the Northern Irish Protocol to force a rethink, Frost said: "We are extremely concerned about the situation.

"Support for the protocol has corroded rapidly," Frost said.

"Our frustration ... is that we're not getting a lot of traction, and we feel we have put in a lot of ideas and we haven't had very much back to help move these discussions forward, and meanwhile ... time is running out."

Ireland's foreign minister said in response that the province's trading arrangement's were not a threat to the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom, but simply a means of managing disruption from its exit from the EU.

"Don't know how many times this needs to be said before it's fully accepted as true. NI Protocol is a technical trading arrangement to manage the disruption of Brexit for the island of Ireland to the greatest extent possible," Simon Coveney said on Twitter.

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Getting nothing back, UK minister says frustration is growing with EU

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Frustration in the British government is rising because London has offered a number of proposals to solve a standoff with the European Union over Northern Ireland but has not had a lot back, Brexit minister David Frost said on Wednesday (16 June), writes Guy Faulconbridge, Reuters.

"Our position is that we would like to find negotiated agreements that ... bring it back to the sort of light-touch agreement that we thought we were agreeing," Frost told a parliamentary committee.

"Our frustration ... is that we're not getting a lot of traction, and we feel we have put in a lot of ideas and we haven't had very much back to help move these discussions forward, and meanwhile ... time is running out."

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