DUP leader Edwin Poots’ allegations that the European Union is causing harm to Northern Ireland in the wake of Brexit lacks “adherence to reality”, according to the EU’s ambassador to the UK.
Joao Vale de Almeida on Tuesday dismissed Mr Poots’ claims that the arrangements are having a “devastating impact” and are causing “demonstrable harm to every individual in Northern Ireland”.
The diplomat argued that “there is no alternative” to the Northern Ireland Protocol, after the DUP leader called for it to be suspended.
Mr Vale de Almeida told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “First of all I don’t think those statements have adherence to reality. The EU is politically, financially and emotionally, I would say, committed to peace and prosperity for everybody in Northern Ireland.
“The protocol is not the problem, Brexit created the problem in Northern Ireland.
“The protocol is a joint endeavour of the UK and the European Union, it is British law, European law, international law, there is no alternative to the protocol.
“Even those that criticise the protocol do not present an alternative which is compatible with the terms of Brexit so the protocol is the solution, we need to implement it and we want to implement it with pragmatism.”
Mr Poots has claimed the region is being used as a “plaything” by Europe and argued its ports will be subjected to greater checks on goods from Britain than take place in Rotterdam when grace periods end.
Meanwhile, Brexit minister Lord Frost visited Northern Ireland to meet business and community representatives to discuss the challenges they are facing following the departure from the EU.