UK-EU talks to continue on Northern Ireland protocol

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The spokesperson said the talks had been constructive so far, but new energy needs to be brought in to make progress….reports Asian Lite News

The UK and the European Union (EU) will have further talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol next week as recent weeks’ negotiation failed to narrow their significant gaps, a British government spokesperson has said.

The spokesperson’s comment came after the meeting between UK’s Brexit Minister David Frost and European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic in London earlier on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Lord Frost noted that there remained significant gaps to be bridged between the UK and EU positions. He noted that… it remained the UK’s preference to find a consensual way forward, but that Article 16 safeguards were a legitimate part of the protocol’s provisions,” the spokesperson said.

The Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol provides both the UK and the EU with a unilateral power to take action should the application of the protocol give rise to “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade.”

Frost also underlined the need to address the full range of issues Britain had identified in the course of discussions, if a comprehensive and durable solution was to be found that supported the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and was in the best interests of Northern Ireland, according to the spokesperson.

The spokesperson said the talks had been constructive so far, but new energy needs to be brought in to make progress.

Intensified talks will take place between teams in Brussels next week on all issues, giving particular attention to medicines and customs issues, the spokesperson said.

The UK and the EU view changing the protocol as a long-term solution to post-Brexit trade disruption in Northern Ireland. Britain outlined its proposals in a government paper in July, which observers interpreted as a renegotiation of the protocol.

In response, the EU published its own package to facilitate the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, including cutting customs formalities, simplified certification, and an 80 percent reduction of checks on retail goods for Northern Ireland’s consumers.

It said it would guarantee an uninterrupted supply of medicine to the people of Northern Ireland, by changing EU rules.

However, the two sides remain poles apart on the more challenging issue of the oversight role of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland.

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