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UK-EU trade deal could collapse over NI row, says Coveney





The UK's trade deal with the EU could collapse in a row over Northern Ireland, says a senior Irish minister.


The UK is thought to be preparing to suspend parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.


Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney hinted the EU could terminate the Trade and Cooperation Agreement in response.


He said: "One is contingent on the other so that if one is being set aside there is a danger that the other will also be set aside by the EU."


Northern Ireland is covered by a special Brexit deal known as the Protocol.


It keeps Northern Ireland in the EU's single market for goods, which prevents a hard border with Ireland and allows free-flowing trade with the EU.


But it also creates a trade border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is causing difficulties for some businesses.


Article 16 of the Protocol allows parts of the deal to be suspended if it is causing serious problems - the UK says that threshold has been reached.


The EU has proposed operational changes to the Protocol but the UK is demanding more far-reaching changes.


Mr Coveney said that if the UK did suspend parts of the Northern Ireland deal it would be "deliberately forcing a breakdown in relationships and negotiation between the two sides".


He linked that to the wider UK-EU deal, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).


Either side can give 12 months notice that they intend to terminate the TCA.

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