Progress In Latest UK-EU Talks Over Northern Ireland Protocol 'Quite Limited' - Frost

Progress in Latest UK-EU Talks Over Northern Ireland Protocol 'Quite Limited' - Frost

The UK Brexit minister, David Frost, said on Friday that progress in this week's technical discussions on the Northern Ireland Protocol between the UK and the European Union has been "quite limited," and reiterated he is ready to trigger the article in the withdrawal agreement that allows London and Brussels to temporarily abandon commitments if solutions cannot be found

LONDON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 03rd December, 2021) The UK Brexit minister, David Frost, said on Friday that progress in this week's technical discussions on the Northern Ireland Protocol between the UK and the European Union has been "quite limited," and reiterated he is ready to trigger the article in the withdrawal agreement that allows London and Brussels to temporarily abandon commitments if solutions cannot be found.

"I made clear that the UK still wanted to find a negotiated solution if that was possible and was ready to keep working constructively and intensively to that end. Nevertheless, the gap between our positions is still significant and progress on many issues has been quite limited," Frost said in a statement following a virtual meeting with his EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic.

As part of the Brexit agreement that came into force in January, there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but under the protocol all goods and animal-based products coming from the rest of the British territories must be checked upon arrival to see if they comply with EU sanitary regulations.

The UK government has argued that the protocol is not working, as it causes delays and interruptions to goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and irritates loyalists of the British crown who believe their place within the union could be affected, thus threatening the so-called Good Friday Agreement that in 1998 put an end to 30 years of bloody armed conflicts.

In October, the EU offered to cut checks on food, plants and animal products by 80% and paperwork for transport companies by half, but London is pushing for renegotiating the whole protocol.

According to Frost, there was some potential convergence on the medicines issue but no agreement was reached.

"We have been unable so far to consider all the detail of the EU's proposals in the way we need to for this sensitive, critical, and highly technical area, where solutions must work in practice and genuinely solve the problems," he argued.

Frost also warned that to improve the flow of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland more progress is needed on customs and sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

"Our position remains as before: that the threshold has been met to use Article 16 safeguards in order to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, if solutions cannot be found," he stressed.

The UK minister announced that he will speak again with Sefcovic next week, so he urged both negotiating teams to intensify talks in the coming days.