The Times quoted a senior British government source as saying the parameters of an overall deal were in place and it was up to Sunak to decide whether to sign it off…reports Asian Lite News
Britain and the European Union have struck a customs deal that could help end post-Brexit wrangling over Northern Ireland, The Times newspaper said on Tuesday, and Brussels has also made a key concession on the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) role.
The EU has accepted a plan that would avoid the need for routine checks on products going into Northern Ireland, the newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The bloc also agreed that the ECJ could rule on Northern Ireland issues only if a case was referred by courts in the province, but the ECJ’s exact role was not yet settled, it said.
Both sides were also hammering out details of a veterinary checks deal, The Times said.
A British government source told Reuters that no agreement had yet been reached and discussions were ongoing.
No one was immediately available to comment in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Downing Street office.
Three years after Britain formally left the EU, both sides have been discussing how to implement post-Brexit arrangements on the largely open border between Northern Ireland – part of the United Kingdom – and EU member state Ireland.
After months of tensions between London, Brussels, Belfast and Dublin, progress has recently been made in the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The Times quoted a senior British government source as saying the parameters of an overall deal were in place and it was up to Sunak to decide whether to sign it off.
In response, the FCDO said: “Our priority is protecting the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and preserving political stability in Northern Ireland and the UK internal market. Any solution on the Protocol must address the range of issues on the ground in Northern Ireland. We are currently engaging in intensive scoping talks with the EU to find solutions to these problems.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman on Monday also suggested no deal had been struck and that “intensive scoping” was under way. The Times reported that while the customs element was apparently “finalised”, the role of the ECJ and details of the veterinary arrangements were not.
Both sides are keen to reach an agreement to break the logjam over the contentious trading arrangements before April’s landmark 25th anniversary of Northern Ireland’s historic Good Friday peace agreement. Many unionists in Northern Ireland are vehemently opposed to arrangements they claim have weakened the region’s place within the union.
The devolved powersharing institutions at Stormont collapsed last year after the DUP withdrew co-operation as part of its protest against the protocol.
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