Northern Ireland news

Northern Ireland Protocol `the solution to issues caused by Brexit'

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

EUROPEAN Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said that the Northern Ireland Protocol is the solution to issues caused by Brexit.

Ms von der Leyen met Taoiseach Micheal Martin at the Technological University Dublin yesterday.

During their bilateral meeting, the pair discussed Covid-19 and vaccines, EU/UK relations and the commission's new "fit for 55" package of measures to support climate action.

The meeting came amid tension between the UK and EU over the implementation of the protocol.

Unionists have voiced anger at the swathe of new checks on goods arriving from Britain, claiming they are undermining the union.

Demonstrations have been held against the so-called border in the Irish Sea as well as legal challenges taken.

Speaking after the meeting, Ms von der Leyen said the protocol was "the only solution we have found with the UK after discussing that over the years".

"It is the only solution to protect peace and stability on the island of Ireland and to protect the integrity of the single market," she said.

"We are convinced that to achieve these objectives this needs to be implemented. We have shown, as the European Commission, huge flexibility and created flexibility and pragmatism over the last year and also over the last weeks.

"Indeed, flexibility and pragmatism has been shown on our side.

"I cannot imagine that our British friends will not show the same flexibility and pragmatism because we all share the same purpose that we want to have peace and stability on the island of Ireland.

"The protocol is important, the Good Friday Agreement is paramount and therefore I cannot imagine our British friends will not show the same flexibility that we have shown."

Mr Martin said his clear sense was that generosity had been shown by the commission.

"Maros Sefcovic, in his discussions with the UK side, has demonstrated and said very clearly that the commission wants to be flexible. So where there's a will, there's a way," he said.

"In our view, the mechanisms are there to resolve any outstanding issues, and we believe the mechanism should be used to the full by the UK Government and the indeed the EU.

"We believe the generosity shown by the EU should be reciprocated."

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