The province of Northern Ireland, with just under two million inhabitants, is both politically and economically insignificant.

And yet the dispute over the special Brexit rules for Northern Ireland threatens to poison relations between the EU and Britain again.

In the worst case, a trade war could result - a completely unnecessary additional burden at a time of major crises that are challenging Europe politically and economically.

Brussels takes the position that the Northern Ireland Protocol should not be renegotiated;

only technical details of the implementation may be discussed.

London says the protocol has failed and jeopardizes the (unstable) peace brought by the Good Friday Agreement twenty years ago.

Reference is made to the collapse of the government in Belfast.

Unionists fear being cut off from Britain by the Brexit deal protocol.

The protocol stipulates that goods transported from Britain in the Irish Sea must be controlled.

The result is an absurd amount of bureaucracy for customs declarations, especially in the area of ​​food and agricultural products.

Hundreds of British companies have halted supplies to Northern Ireland because costs are prohibitively high.

London's proposal to introduce a 'green channel' without controls for registered traders if their goods are only destined for the Northern Ireland market is a sensible, pragmatic idea.

Brussels objects that uncontrolled goods could then enter the EU and endanger the “integrity of the internal market”.

High-ranking German diplomats admit behind closed doors that the "integrity of the internal market" is held up like a monstrance here, but that the term is difficult to convey.

What would really be so bad about supermarket sandwiches, sausages or English seed potatoes crossing the Irish Sea unchecked as they have for a long time?

Even if a couple of sandwiches were then transported to Ireland, that would not ruin the EU.

There is still time to defuse the dispute pragmatically.