The EU's attempts to pick a fight with the UK over Article 16 will do nothing to paper over the internal cracks of EU political strife. Threats to restrict trade with the UK and introduce tariffs will do nothing but create further division, argues Jayne Adye of Get Britain Out.

The EU has been facing internal political crises for years. However, a degree of unity over Brexit among the leaders of member states, as well as the previously strong influence of outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has been able to maintain a fragile peace within the European Union. However, once Merkel departs as Chancellor and other German parties form a coalition agreement, this peace will be on the verge of collapse.

We can be sure a firm test of this peace will come from Emmanuel Macron, as he scrambles ahead of the French presidential elections next year to show his authority and power within Europe. He will show no regard for the priorities of other countries and will try to establish himself as the heir to Angela Merkel's crown. Although, with so many of his potential presidential opponents advocating for less involvement of the EU in France, who is to say whether or not President Macron is sowing the seeds of his own defeat.

However, this power struggle within the EU is not the only problem, despite news on the issues being pushed into the background. The EU still has unresolved conflicts with Poland, mainly over the country's constitutional court having declared 'European Law' does not have primacy over 'Polish Domestic Law' and rejecting the influence of the European Court of Justice. The UK Government – and Lord Frost – know about this all too well, as they fight to free Northern Ireland from this same control. Furthermore, the EU continues to abandon Poland in their battle to contain the migrant crisis along their border with Belarus, where thousands of people are camped out and trying to force their way across the border into the rest of the EU.

The EU has continually complained about the UK never having been committed to their values, and how this has required strict measures to try and 'shackle' the UK to the EU as part of any trade deal. However, the very real cultural divides between many EU Member States continues to increase; their problems dwarfing the differences between the UK and the majority of EU members, which is clearly why it was so necessary for us to leave the EU. A melting pot of cultures and values which the EU attempts to force on everyone in their march towards a federal European superstate. This will not end well.

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As talks between the UK and the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol escalate, the EU appears to believe picking a fight with the UK over the legality of triggering Article 16 in order to force a full renegotiation is somehow the way to make sure their internal unity is maintained. Unbelievably, during the restarted negotiations this week, the European Commission Vice-President, Maros Sefcovic, held a meeting with representatives of member states to discuss a raft of measures and threats should the UK decide to enact Article 16 – including punitive trade tariffs. Implementation of such measures has been delayed, but it's clear the EU will not hesitate in making threats against the UK again should the bloc not get its way.

Punitive action against the UK might not be the best move for maintaining unity within the EU. After all, the UK is still the single biggest export market for goods from EU member states. Introducing barriers to goods moving freely into the UK would be contrary to the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement and would only turn UK consumers further away from buying EU.

What sort of message would this kind of behaviour send to the rest of the world regarding trust in the EU over the treaty they have signed with the UK?

I have not struggled to replace many items of EU-origin which I used to buy, with ones made here in the UK – or from further afield where necessary – with many other Brits doing the same and buying 'British' rather than from the EU where possible. If EU President Ursula von de Leyen continues her threats, they will not punish UK consumers, they will only punish EU businesses which rely on the UK market for their sales – and incidentally, many of the businesses which will lose out are in Ireland, as they sell the most to the UK.

Is the EU really ready to take this kind of massive economic and political gamble because von der Leyen stubbornly refuses to allow the UK to trigger Article 16, which they themselves agreed was legitimate during negotiations? If Article 16 was never supposed to be used, then why include it in the deal in the first place, and why did the EU temporarily trigger Article 16 themselves in January 2021 over COVID-19 vaccines? At least the UK is following the proper procedures and has shown – with clear evidence – why the conditions for triggering Article 16 have been met. So, if the EU want to try and impose their 'Federal' unilateral arrogance – go ahead – and see how much they stand to lose from this, with their reputation battered on the world stage.

Perhaps – instead of trying to pick a fight with the UK over legal technicalities which they have already agreed to – the self-important unelected bureaucrats in Brussels should actually focus on repairing the disarray currently engulfing the continent. Otherwise, the disgruntlement which caused the British public to vote to leave the EU in the first place, will continue to grow among many of the other EU member states which are also clearly fed up with being unilaterally shackled to the EU and denied their own sovereignty.

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