EU protocols on Northern Ireland trade are 'nutty' says expert

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The Brexit minister and his EU counterpart, Maros Sefcovic, have met on several occasions in a bid to resolve teething issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol – agreed in the Brexit deal last year. The Northern Ireland Protocol is designed to avoid customs checks along the Irish border.

It means goods – including medicines – can flow freely between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

However, a UK senior official has said answers to the issues with the

Protocol need to be addressed ahead of the Stormont elections in May 2022.

They told Italian publication Repubblica: “The answer is that these issues have to be addressed well before Stormont elections.

“It’s really important that we don’t go into the elections with all of the political parties of the Unionist community campaigning against the protocol, that’s where they will be.

“So this issue is really important. So we do think it’s very important that this is addressed before then.”

Following the UK’s departure from the EU, Northern Ireland remained part of the bloc’s Single Market and has recovered economically from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his statement on Friday, Lord Frost insisted there needed to be “movement on all the difficult issues created by the protocol” – including on the Court of Justice.

More to follow…

Lord Frost says ‘limited progress’ was made during negotiations

Following Friday’s online meeting with Mr Sefcovic, Lord said said they made “further limited progress on medicines but we have not reached agreeement”.

He said: “I underlined the need for movement on all the difficult issues created by the protocol, including customs, agri-food rules, subsidy policy, VAT/excise, and governance including the [European] Court of Justice.

“We will not find a durable solution that does not deal with all these problems.”

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