EU, UK step up N Ireland talks as EU continues legal action

Photo: AP A truck drives past a defaced 'Welcome to Northern Ireland' sign on the Ireland and Northern Ireland border reminding motorists that the speed limits will change from kilometres per hour to miles per hour on the border in Carrickcarnan, Ireland, 6 March 2021.

The European Union said on Friday that Britain should not change trading rules in Northern Ireland on its own and that the bloc would continue its legal case over unilateral British action in the province for as long as necessary.

European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic, who hosted UK negotiator David Frost for talks on Thursday evening, said only agreements by joint bodies established by the Brexit divorce deal could provide stability in Northern Ireland.

The British-ruled province has remained in the EU single market for goods since Brexit to ensure an open border with EU member Ireland and so requires checks on goods coming from other parts of the United Kingdom.

Britain in March unilaterally extended a grace period on certain checks to minimise supply disruption, a move Brussels said breached the Brexit divorce deal known as the Withdrawal Agreement and the specific protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. read more

Sefcovic said in a statement on Friday there was no space for unilateral action. He said both sides had to agree on how to comply fully with the protocol, including "clear end-points, deadlines, milestones and the means to measure progress".

Frost said the British government was committed to working through joint bodies and that all solutions had to respect the Good Friday peace agreement "in all its dimensions" and to ensure minimal disruption to everyday lives in Northern Ireland.

Both agreed that Thursday's discussion took place in a constructive atmosphere, that talks needed to intensify and that they would jointly engage with business groups, civil society and others in Northern Ireland.

Frost said some "positive momentum" had been established.

"But a number of difficult issues remained and it was important to continue to discuss them," the British government said in a statement.

Similar articles

  • EU starts delivering Covid vaccines to the Western Balkans

    EU starts delivering Covid vaccines to the Western Balkans

    The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines on Tuesday to the Western Balkans, news wires reported. The European Commission last month announced that 651,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses will be delivered to Serbia, Bosnia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo from May to August.

    68
  • Russia bars eight EU high officials from entry

    Russia bars eight EU high officials from entry

    The Russian foreign ministry on Friday barred eight officials from the EU from entering the country in retaliation for sanctions imposed on Russian citizens, news wires reported. Among those banned are Vera Jourova, Commission VP for values and transparency, and David Sassoli,  European Parliament President.

    83
  • Russia expels 7 diplomats from 4 EU Member States

    Russia expels 7 diplomats from 4 EU Member States

    Russia's foreign ministry on Wednesday ordered the expulsion of seven diplomats from Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, in retaliation for the expulsion of Russian envoys. The ministry gave the three Slovak and two Lithuanian diplomats, as well as an envoy from Latvia and another from Estonia one week to leave Russia, Reuters reported.

    78