World

Is Biden turning on Brussels?

18 March 2021

6:16 AM

18 March 2021

6:16 AM

The Joe Biden administration, headed up by a proud son of Ireland, has spent St Patrick’s Day briefing reporters in Washington that it will not be taking a side in the latest Irish border dispute. The new President spoke with the Irish Taoiseach on Wednesday in celebration of the two countries’ history — just as the EU prepares to take the UK to court over the border row.

Perhaps Micheál Martin was planning on lightly nudging Biden to remind him of the more recent past. Six months ago, the Democratic challenger to Trump blasted Boris Johnson for putting the Good Friday Agreement at risk, saying that he couldn’t allow it to become a ‘casualty of Brexit’.

We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.

Any trade deal between the U.S. and U.K. must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period. https://t.co/Ecu9jPrcHL

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 16, 2020


Strong stuff from candidate Biden. that statement caused much wailing in Westminster as the UK’s political elite fretted over a potential feud with the future leader of the free world. Little did Biden know, but it would be the EU that would end up threatening the Good Friday Agreement.

Late one Friday night at the end of January, the EU Commission triggered a clause in the Northern Ireland Protocol that would have seen a hard border implemented on the island of Ireland. The reason? The EU wanted to get its hands on any vaccines heading towards UK soil. That decision caused yet more wailing — not least in Dublin, thanks to the EU’s failure to notify the Republic of its unilateral decision to tear up the Good Friday Agreement. Amid global condemnation, Brussels made a grovelling U-turn.

Fast forward to today and the European Union is now pursuing the UK in the courts after London decided to extend the grace period on customs checks, making it easier for goods to travel between the Republic and Northern Ireland. So how has the seemingly pro-EU, pro-Irish President reacted?

Biden administration not taking sides in UK-EU rift on Northern Ireland – aide https://t.co/T8aKGQwh6h pic.twitter.com/rFUgehrkUd

— Reuters (@Reuters) March 17, 2021

Funny that…

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