Connect with us



The UK and the EU are set to thrash out their differences over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Brexit minister Lord Frost and Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice president, will meet on Wednesday after the latter suggested the EU is finding it hard to trust the UK following its departure from the bloc

Mr Sefcovic said there have been “numerous and fundamental gaps in the UK’s implementation” of the two sides’ trade deal and that the EU will act “firmly” if the UK does not agree on deadlines for complying with its obligations.

In turn, Environment Secretary George Eustice claimed the Northern Ireland Protocol, in the way the EU wants to implement it, would make it impossible for UK producers to sell British sausages to Northern Ireland.

Sky News has taken a closer look at the issues.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Many suppliers in Britain ‘have chosen to stop supplying to Northern Ireland’

What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

It is a crucial part of the Internal Markets Bill, which was drawn up to ensure trade between all four UK nations remains barrier-free after the Brexit transition period ended on 31 December 2020.

More on Brexit

The Northern Ireland Protocol was put in place to avoid the introduction of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

It states that Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK’s customs territory – so if the UK signs a free trade deal with another country, Northern Irish goods would be included.

However, Northern Ireland will have to stick to some EU rules to allow goods to move freely into the Republic.

Goods moving from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland will not be subject to a tariff unless they are “at risk” of being moved into the EU afterwards.

Mr Eustice said in 2020 there would need to be “some checks on some goods” and “some customs processes but not customs checks” at the border with the Republic.

Goods coming from Northern Ireland to Great Britain can have “unfettered” access, the Internal Market Bill says. This means goods sold in Northern Ireland will be accepted everywhere else in the UK, but the reverse may not be true.

A sign on a lamppost that reads 'Ulster is British - no internal UK Border - Unionists against NI Protocol', opposite the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Redlands site. It will be used to inspect animal products travelling from Great Britain into Northern Ireland after the post-Brexit transition period at the end of the year.
The Northern Ireland Protocol was meant to prevent a physical border on the island of Ireland

What has happened since the Brexit transition period ended?

Products from Great Britain entering Northern Ireland have had to undergo EU import procedures at the ports.

An Irish Sea border has effectively been imposed in an effort to prevent a physical border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

This has resulted in delays and sometimes sparse supermarket shelves.

A sign is seen with a message against the Brexit border checks in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol at the harbour in Larne, Northern Ireland February 12, 2021. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Checks imposed at the port in Larne, Northern Ireland, have not been popular

What are the UK and EU disagreeing over?

Under the protocol, a ban will come into force if the UK and EU cannot agree on new regulatory standards to cover the sale of some products after a “grace period” allowed under the agreement.

In March, the UK unilaterally extended the grace period for supermarket goods and parcels for another six months, after it was due to finish at the end of that month.

The EU launched legal action against the UK for extending that grace period.

Graffiti on the A2 outside Carrickfergus in Belfast. The DUP has rejected claims it is whipping up tensions over Irish Sea trade in an effort to get Brexit's contentious Northern Ireland Protocol ditched. Physical inspections on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, which are required under the protocol, have been suspended amid threats and intimidation of staff. Picture date: Wednesday February 3, 2021.
The UK promised there would be no sea border

It is understood British ministers are now considering a unilateral extension for chilled meats, including sausages and mince, which is due to end on 30 June.

After the grace period, chilled meats produced in Great Britain will not be allowed to be sold in Northern Ireland as they are not from the EU, which has strict restrictions on food products.

Mr Sefcovic said retaliation by the EU would be so extreme it would ensure the UK “abides by its international law obligations”.

Boris Johnson‘s spokesman said there was “no case whatsoever” for blocking the sale of chilled meats.

Sausages on sale at the butchers at Polhill Farm Shop near Sevenoaks 20/3/2020
British sausages have been the focus of the latest disagreement

Lord Frost claims the EU has been “inflexible” over the protocol, something the EU rejects.

The EU has said the UK could align with its animal health and food safety rules to remove the need for 80% of the current Irish Sea customs checks.

But the UK has rejected this, as it says it will tie Britain’s hands in trade negotiations with other countries.

The UK has also accused the EU of failing to engage with its own proposals, especially with the issues people in Northern Ireland are facing.

Continue Reading


COP28: Rishi Sunak to call for ‘pragmatic’ climate action at conference after green U-turns earlier this year




COP28: Rishi Sunak to call for 'pragmatic' climate action at conference after green U-turns earlier this year

Rishi Sunak will call for “pragmatic” climate action at COP28, as he seeks to reassure international partners following his climate U-turns earlier this year.

Mr Sunak changed a number of plans put in place by his predecessors over the summer – including the phasing out of the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030. This now has a 2035 deadline.

Some £4bn of green investment was announced by the chancellor in last week’s autumn statement.

Politics news: Hunt hails ‘one of the great chancellors’ in Darling

Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips

Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips

Watch live each week on Sunday at 8:30am on Sky channel 501, Freeview 233, Virgin 602, the Sky News website and app or YouTube.

Tap here for more

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will also be at the UN climate conference in Dubai as he looks to build international bridges ahead of the general election expected next year.

And he has used his trip to Dubai to say Mr Sunak‘s government is “sending the wrong signals” on the move to net zero.

Before his visit, Mr Sunak said “the UK has lead the way in taking pragmatic, long-term decisions at home – and at COP28 we will lead international efforts to protect the world’s forests, turbocharge renewable energy and leverage the full weight of private finance”.

More on Cop28

The prime minister will announce £1.6bn of UK financing for climate projects while in Dubai.

This includes £500m for forests and sustainable land, £316m for green energy projects around the world and other schemes which will be announced later on.

Some £40m will be contributed to a new global scheme aiming to address loss and damage – Germany and hosts UAE will give around £79m, while the US and Japan will give less than the UK.

As well as his climate U-turns, the prime minister has also been criticised for his government’s continuing issuing of oil and gas licences in the North Sea.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

‘We are a world leader on climate’

Read more:
What is COP28, who is going, and what’s at stake?
Sunak and Sir Keir head to COP28 in Dubai

Mr Sunak said: “The world made ambitious pledges at previous COP summits to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. But the time for pledges is now over – this is the era for action.

“We know that the technologies and innovations we need to protect the planet are at our fingertips, from the mighty offshore wind farms powering the UK to the solar energy transforming electricity in Africa.

“The transition to net zero should make us all safer and better off. It must benefit, not burden ordinary families.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Starmer asked if he can be trusted

Mr Sunak will also use the summit to speak with world leaders about the conflict in the Middle East.

Sir Keir, meanwhile, will use the summit to further his plans to encourage green investment and business in the UK should he become prime minister.

But Labour recently had to deny he was watering down his promise to invest £28bn a year in green initiatives.

This is said to be a target – and will be subject to “fiscal rules” imposed by a Labour chancellor if they are in power.

Speaking ahead of his trip, Sir Keir said he wanted to “set the agenda” on green finance – and this will be done by “partnering with business”.

Labour says it would force FTSE 100 companies to publish their carbon footprint and adhere to “credible” plans to limit climate change to an increase of 1.5C.

Continue Reading


Coinbase tracks 6% rise in info requests from law, government agencies




Coinbase tracks 6% rise in info requests from law, government agencies

Crypto exchange Coinbase says it had recorded a 6% rise in requests from law enforcement and government agencies compared to 2022, with the number of jurisdictions issuing requests jumping by 19, according to the exchange’s annual Transparency Report.

Four countries — the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Spain — made up nearly three-quarters (73%) of the 13,079 agency requests to Coinbase for information between Q4 202

The United States made 5,686 requests to Coinbase, up from 5,304 last year, with 90.4% of those from criminal enforcement agencies. That number dwarfed Germany’s 1,906 requests, which ranked second. Germany traded places with the U.K. compared to last year, with the country seeing a small decline in requests over the year, down to 1,401 requests. This still far exceeded fourth-place Spain’s 732.

Meanwhile, Australia sent 262% more requests to Coinbase compared to the previous year, placing it sixth place at 453. Ukraine’s requests more than tripled, and Portugal’s more than doubled, but those countries still did not register in the top 15.

Countries that sent Coinbase more information requests compared to the previous year. Source: Coinbase

The report covered the final quarter of 2022 and the first three of 2023. The requests Coinbase counted included subpoenas, court orders, search warrants and other formal legal processes. Coinbase provided “customer information, such as name, recent login/logout IP address, and payment information” in response to requests, but may push back at times:

“Our obligation is to respond to these requests if they are valid under financial regulations and other applicable laws. […] Under certain circumstances, we may ask the government or law enforcement agency to narrow their request.”

Coinbase said in a blog post in September that 83% of “G20 members and major financial hubs” have crypto regulations in force or passed legislation on crypto. These regulations include the European Union’s Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation, passed in April, and other initiatives.

Meanwhile, enforcement agencies worldwide have begun to turn up the heat on crypto-related crime, with many beefing up their police units to trace potentially illicit crypto transactions. 

Related: Coinbase warns customers about subpoena in apparent CFTC Bybit probe

Coinbase itself was the object of enforcement action in June of this year in the form of a suit by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleging the sale of unregistered securities. It contested the SEC’s authority in the case in a court filing in October.

Coinbase is active in over 100 countries. In September, announced plans to focus on expansion in the European Union, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Singapore and Australia. Those jurisdictions are “enacting clear rules,” the exchange said.

Magazine: Can you trust crypto exchanges after the collapse of FTX?