Northern Ireland news

Truss: EU has 'clear responsibility' over Protocol problems

Foreign secretary Liz Truss is meeting her EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic for talks today.
Paul Ainsworth

THE UK's chief Brexit negotiator has said the EU has a responsibility to "fix the myriad problems" caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol ahead of crunch talks between both sides today.

British foreign secretary Liz Truss, who took over the role of UK Brexit negotiator from Lord Frost last month, is beginning her first face-to-face talks with her EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic today at Cheving House, her official country residence in Kent.

The summit follows a recent threat from Ms Truss that she would be prepared to trigger Article 16 and suspend parts of the Protocol - a move supported by the DUP and critics of the so-called Irish Sea border created by the Protocol in order to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The Protocol had been previously agreed by the UK in their 2019 Withdrawal Agreement with the EU.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, former Remain campaigner Ms Truss said: "There is a deal to be done that protects peace in Northern Ireland, defends our Union, and maintains the integrity of the United Kingdom and EU. But it will require a pragmatic approach from the EU.

 

"I will be putting forward practical, reasonable solutions starting from these fundamental principles, with a view to agreeing a plan for intensive negotiations."

She added: "The EU has a clear responsibility to help fix the myriad problems caused by the Protocol and protects the Belfast Agreement. As fellow believers in liberty and democracy, we should be capable of reaching an agreement that delivers for Northern Ireland and allows us to unleash the full potential of our relationship."

Meanwhile, speaking late last month upon the appointment of Ms Truss to her new role, European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic said he had reached out to her to discuss relations between the UK and EU.

"I'm committed to continue working towards a conclusive understanding with the UK on practical solutions for NI stakeholders. The EU's position is known. Our goal: stability and predictability," he said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, on the eve of the talks, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson addressed the Conservative Party's parliamentary group, the 1922 Committee, to warn that the Protocol would lead to "the economic and constitutional divergence of Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom" if left in place.

The Lagan Valley MP warned the talks must lead to "rapid progress to remove the Irish Sea Border."

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