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EU hopes to solve Northern Ireland’s Brexit trade issues by year-end By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Lorries depart a ferry from the Port of Larne in Northern Ireland, Britain on January 1, 2021. REUTERS/Phil Noble


By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The European Union hopes to resolve the trading difficulties of Northern Ireland by the end of the year, the EU’s post-Brexit coordinator said on Tuesday, while warning London against unilaterally suspending the terms of the divorce deal.

Maros Sefcovic (Vice President of the European Commission), who manages EU relations to Britain, rejected another British request for renegotiation of the protocol that governs Northern Ireland’s trade position.

He said he wanted to work within the protocol in order to allow free movement of goods into the British province.

Sefcovic, who was speaking to reporters following a meeting in Brussels with the national EU ministers, said: “We must do our best to resolve any outstanding issues before December 31st. That’s why we have a time frame within which we can work.”

According to Sefcovic, the bloc wants to concentrate on solving the problems facing Northern Ireland residents and businesses.

In the protocol, Britain agreed not to change any EU regulations in Northern Ireland, and to accept customs checks for goods from the United Kingdom. This is in order to keep an open border with Ireland, a EU member.

Pro-British unionists are upset that the agreement has created a border on the Irish Sea.

David Frost, Sefcovic’s British counterpart has mentioned the possibility that the protocol could be triggered by “Article 16”. This clause allows any side to opt out of its terms in the event of unanticipated harm.

Sefcovic indicated that Britain’s decision would prove “extremely ineffective” and said the European Union would investigate all possible responses.

Sefcovic said that while we hope to avoid such a scenario, he also stated that it was important that Northern Ireland’s people get a resolution and not more tensions or confrontations.

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