Crucial talks on Northern Ireland to resumeEuropost
Crucial talks on a part of the Brexit deal that governs trade with Northern Ireland are to resume this week, expectedly on Wednesday, with both sides urging reason to prevail, news wires reported. While Britain called on the EU to be more pragmatic, Brussels urged London to help rebuild trust.
Since it completed its departure from the EU last year, Britain's relations with the Union have soured, with both sides accusing the other of acting in bad faith over what is called the Northern Ireland protocol. The protocol introduced checks on some goods moving from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland, which has a land border with EU member Ireland.
The checks have caused a perception among pro-British unionists in Northern Ireland that the Brexit deal divides them from the rest of the UK, a shift they say could sink a 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence. "We ultimately need to re-establish a minimum level of trust that allows us to find solutions," Joao Vale de Almeida, the EU ambassador to Britain, told Times Radio before talks.
According to the envoy, no viable alternative to the Northern Ireland protocol, a measure designed to prevent a "hard" border between the EU and Britain on the island of Ireland, had been proposed. He called on Britain to honour its agreements.
David Frost, Britain's minister in charge of EU ties, said EU negotiators needed to adopt a "new playbook" for talks. In comments published by the Financial Times, Frost said the EU needed to show more pragmatism and less "legal purism". "We continue to work for negotiated solutions which achieve this. But time is starting to run out. We need to see progress soon. I hope we can this week," Frost said. Britain had made huge compromises to make the agreement work, he added.