Brexit LIVE: EU lashes out at Ireland and warns of ‘payback’ – Brexit unity shatters

Brexit: Maros Sefcovic says UK needs to ‘dial down rhetoric’

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Dublin was enraged by the EU’s bid to impose a hard border with Northern Ireland at the height of the bloc’s chaotic Covid vaccine roll-out. And in a further blow to the united front displayed before Britain’s departure on New Year’s Eve, EU chiefs are now preparing to slap draconian sanctions on the Irish fishing industry for its alleged failure to stick to Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) rules.

Ireland’s fishermen face a £35 million EU funding cut plus massive reductions in their annual quotas after a Brussels-led inquiry found widescale breaches of the CFP including suspected manipulation of weighing systems, under-recording of storage capacity and lack of enforcement action for non-compliance.

Auditors also found evidence of massive overfishing between 2012 and 2016 and EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius told Ireland Brussels will open a “payback procedure” which will be taken from future quotas.

The sanctions threat to Ireland comes as the country’s fishing chiefs were already facing massive cuts to their annual quotas as part of the Brexit deal and with the future of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol of the agreement hanging in the balance.

Dublin has called for Brussels to show “pragmatism and flexibility” to end the row over Northern Ireland border tensions.

Foreign minister Simon Coveney insisted conceding ground to ensure the peace process is protected should not be seen as a “weakness”.

Brussels and Britain are currently at loggerheads over the Brexit divorce deal’s Northern Ireland Protocol to prevent a hard border.

Downing Street fears the overzealous implementation of EU red tape has caused trade frictions and potentially risks destabilising the region.

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8.02am update: Brexit set to cost Germany £30bn in just two years

Brexit is set to cost Germany more than £30bn in just two years, Chancellor Angela Merkel has been warned.

The UK finally left the European Union on December 31 after Boris Johnson signed a historic EU trade deal on Christmas Eve.

And the cost of the decision for Britain’s European neighbours has now become clear in a bombshell report by the European Commission.

Without Britain, the EU will lose around 0.5 percent of its annual economic growth over the next two years.

Across the bloc, this could total an estimated £121 billion and according to German magazine Focus, Ms Merkel’s nation will face an eyewatering individual price with losses of around £30bn.

7.30am update: KPMG boss highlights opportunities brought by Brext deal

New post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland offer lots of opportunities for the region, a senior partner in KPMG has said.

Johnny Hanna, who heads up the global accountancy firm’s operations in Belfast, acknowledged the Northern Ireland Protocol had caused some disruption in its early weeks of operation.

But he expressed optimism that issues would be resolved in the months ahead, as businesses “get to grips” with the new regulatory and customs processes on shipping goods from Britain to Northern Ireland.

Looking to the future, he said the protocol, which gives Northern Ireland companies unfettered access to sell into both the GB and EU markets, could prove beneficial.

Mr Hanna was commenting after KPMG announced 200 new jobs in Belfast.

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