U.K. Says N. Ireland Solutions Needed Urgently Ahead of EU Talks
(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. government said negotiations with the European Union over the Northern Ireland Protocol need solutions “urgently” ahead of new talks aimed at closing key disagreements between the parties.
A team from the EU Commission will travel to London on Tuesday, after which Brexit Minister David Frost and the Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic are due to meet and take stock of progress at the end of the week, according to a U.K. government statement. Although a first round of discussions was constructive, the parties are still far apart on some fundamental aspects of the dispute, particularly the issue of governance, the U.K. said.
The U.K. and the EU have been battling it out over trade barriers in Northern Ireland after Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatened to use Article 16 of the Protocol to unilaterally suspend parts of the agreement. The future of a post-Brexit trade deal relies heavily on the success of the talks, with the EU potentially considering withdrawing from the deal altogether if the U.K. backtracks on commitments that it made over Northern Ireland, Bloomberg reported on Friday.
“We need to see real progress soon rather than get stuck in a process of endless negotiation,” a U.K. government spokesperson said. “Whether we’re able to establish that momentum soon will help us determine if we can bridge the gap or if we need to use Article 16.”
The EU has previously said it’s prepared to respond with legal and retaliatory trade measures if Article 16 is invoked.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.