Yesterday the EU unilaterally implemented Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol in order to prevent Covid vaccines leaving the EU for the UK. They did this because the UK has more vaccines than the EU and has vaccinated more of its population than all EU member states combined, principally because Matt Hancock signed a contract with AstraZeneca three months before the EU did, and some of his best vaccine bets are reaping dividends.
So, less than a month after the Northern Ireland Protocol was agreed, and the EU (along with the USA) insisted there could be no hard border on the island of Ireland, the EU erected one overnight – without consulting (indeed, without even informing) the Government of the Republic of Ireland.
So much for EU member-state sovereignty.
Indeed, so much for UK-EU Brexit deal.
Article 16 has specific conditions:
For the EU, the fact that the UK is winning the vaccine race creates ‘serious societal difficulties’, and the necessary ‘safeguard measure’, they judge, is to ban the export of vaccines from the EU, despite the UK being in possession of a contract for them to be supplied. It is hard to see the EU as a ‘good faith’ actor in this dispute; indeed, when the Archbishop of Canterbury has to remind them of the EU’s foundation of Catholic Social Teaching, the inference is that their behaviour is not only un-neighbourly, but anti-Christian. Setting aside the fact that they manifestly have no respect for commercial contracts, international treaties or the rule of law, they think Brexit gives them the right to ride roughshod over the rights and welfare of British citizens.
By this hostile action, the EU actually breached the Good Friday Agreement, and so imperiled the peace process.
Nigel Dodds MP tweeted:
Indeed, the EU’s action united the DUP, Sinn Féin, the Irish Government, the British Government, Her Majesty’s Opposition and the Church of England in condemnation. The EU considers itself a guardian of the Ireland-UK peace process, of which an immutable precept (they believe) is the impossibility of there ever again being a hard border on the island of Ireland. So it comes as something of a surprise that they can establish one apparently in a fit of pique.
You mean a bit like failing to consult the government of a sovereign member state before changing its borders?
It wasn’t an oversight at all: the decision to implement Article 16 was a purposeful, premeditated and spiteful action designed to hinder the UK’s vaccine rollout and humiliate the British Government. Perhaps what Justin Welby fails to understand that the EU’s conception of solidarity stops at its borders: it isn’t so much concerned with loving its neighbours as getting one up on them. It was the ECSC and later the EEC which had its foundations planted firmly on the papal encyclicals Rerum Novarum (1891) and Quadragisimo Anno (1931), with their vision of building a new social and economic order in Europe. No doubt the Archbishop of Canterbury has read and meditated upon both. Perhaps a few more members of the clergy (especially bishops) might consider doing so:
117. But what if Socialism has really been so tempered and modified as to the class struggle and private ownership that there is in it no longer anything to be censured on these points? Has it thereby renounced its contradictory nature to the Christian religion? This is the question that holds many minds in suspense. And numerous are the Catholics who, although they clearly understand that Christian principles can never be abandoned or diminished seem to turn their eyes to the Holy See and earnestly beseech Us to decide whether this form of Socialism has so far recovered from false doctrines that it can be accepted without the sacrifice of any Christian principle and in a certain sense be baptized. That We, in keeping with Our fatherly solicitude, may answer their petitions, We make this pronouncement: Whether considered as a doctrine, or an historical fact, or a movement, Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism, even after it has yielded to truth and justice on the points which we have mentioned, cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth.
(Quadragisimo Anno, 117)
The EU long ago abandoned its Christian foundations: as it has become increasingly secular, so has it become incrementally anti-Christian. It is good to dream of (the Treaty of) Rome and a divinely-ordained vision of peace and reconciliation, but those who sacrifice bulls to the emperor in order to forge political unity might remember that empires only last as long the people feel loved.