UK Brexit Minister Says No Breakthrough Made In UK-EU Talks Over Northern Ireland Protocol

UK Brexit Minister Says No Breakthrough Made in UK-EU Talks Over Northern Ireland Protocol

LONDON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 09th June, 2021) UK Brexit Minister David Frost said on Wednesday that "no breakthroughs" over the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol were achieved during his talks with European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic to check on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

"There weren't any breakthroughs. There aren't any breakdowns either and we're going to carry on talking," Frost told media following three-and-a-half hours meeting with Sefcovic in London.

As part of the withdrawal agreement, Northern Ireland remained in the European single market and customs unions after the United Kingdom left the bloc for good on December 31, 2020. Although there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, all goods and animal-based products coming from the rest of the UK territories must be checked upon arrival to Northern Ireland to comply with the EU sanitary regulations.

Brussels has consistently said that the Northern Ireland Protocol is the only way to maintain both the Good Friday peace agreement and the integrity of its single market, but the implementation of the deal has sparked criticism and protests from loyalists who fear the deal could damage the UK sovereignty over the province, while others think it might affect the fragile political stability achieved with the 1998 peace accords.

The UK government has unilaterally pushed back the full implementation of checks on supermarket goods and parcels to prevent shortage of chilled meat products in the UK province due to delays caused by the customs checks and paperwork, but the EU claimed such move is undermining the protocol and has threatened London with legal action.

Earlier in Parliament, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government's priority was to ensure the territorial and economic integrity of the United Kingdom and the right of the people of Northern Ireland to have free and uninterrupted access to goods and service from the whole of the UK.