THERE IS fresh speculation that Irish officials reminded the European Council of its strong ties to US President Joe Biden in order to convince it to backtrack on plans to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The plans sparked a furious reaction from both the UK and Irish governments with politicians from across the political spectrum in Northern Ireland similarly scathing of the plans which would have seen border controls established on the island of Ireland.
Though it was intended as an attempt to prevent the UK from using Northern Ireland as backdoor to channel vaccine supplies through, the move flew in the face of the EU’s previous claims of the need to ensure no harder was put in place on the island of Ireland.
Ultimately, the EC was forced to almost immediately backtrack on those plans after its president Ursula von der Leyen spoke directly with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
According to The Telegraph, it is thought that Irish officials may have used this call and other communications with EU officials to threaten to involve US President Joe Biden in order to convince the EC to reverse its plans.
The report suggests diplomats in Brussels speculated that Dublin could have “picked up the Batphone to Biden" in order to convince the EU to change its stance.
It is thought that these diplomats may have also reminded von der Leyen that Biden is a keen supporter of the Good Friday Agreement and had previously warned the UK against installing any form of hard border in Ireland.
In any case, EU officials were quick to reverse the decision a matter of hours after the initial announcement, claiming the plans to invoke emergency powers to control trade in Northern Ireland were a mistake, particular as border controls had been such a key plank of the Brexit negotiations.
"It's a lot better to realise early on that something might be a problem and to change it, than to stick to your guns and dig a hole for yourself," an EU official told one reporter.
The EU has nevertheless faced stern criticism over its actions with Irish officials accusing the bloc of failing to understand the “sensitivities” of the protocol.
Arlene Foster, the first minister of Northern Ireland, went further, describing the decision to triggerr Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol as an “incredible act of hostility”.
She is now calling for the protocol to be revised to ensure no repeat is faced.
The decision to trigger the article comes amid an ongoing row over vaccine supplies after AstraZeneca informed the EU it would not be able to deliver the agreed amount of jabs before March.