The Irish government wants an effective veto over all future EU legislation concerning the Brexit treaty’s Northern Irish Protocol.
Dublin demanded the “early warning system” after the European Commission triggered Article 16 of the agreement during its row with AstraZeneca. Brussels reversed the measure, which would have imposed a hard border on the island of Ireland, after furious interventions from Britain and Ireland.
“It’s OK to make a mistake once; you learn from those mistakes. And the mistake from the near triggering of Article 16 was not to consult the Government of the most exposed member state, Ireland, first,” said Neale Richmond, the Irish MP for Dublin Rathdown.
“No member state appreciates the sensitivity of the protocol more than Ireland; it is vital to have that mechanism in place to ensure there is the political awareness from a member state taken into account,” the Fine Gael spokesman for European affairs added. The Irish want Mairead McGuinness, their EU commissioner, and their embassy to the EU to screen all future legislation before it is formalised to ensure it poses no risk to the peace process.
The commission, which is jealously protective of its power to propose EU legislation, is yet to respond to the Irish demand. There is a growing belief in Irish government circles that the commission will not submit to the proposal, which would likely take the form of a formal undertaking by Brussels.
Ursula von der Leyen, the commission president, dodged a direct question over whether she would cave to Dublin on Friday and instead repeated that triggering Article 16 had been a mistake. Irish MPs now plan to question Maros Sefcovic, the commission’s vice-president, who is overseeing the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.
Mr Sefcovic will speak at the Irish parliament on Tuesday and will be asked to explain Mrs Von der Leyen’s oversight.