President of the European Commission, Rishi Sunak, said that she had “encouraging” talks with her about the Northern Ireland Protocol and was “very confident” that a solution could be found.
Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Dublin on Thursday for a two day visit. She also stated that Brexit’s consequences cannot be completely reversed.
The negotiations between Westminster and Brussels over the Northern Ireland Protocol continue. It was established after EU to avoid an Irish-style border.
It has, however, effectively established a border in Ireland Sea. Northern Ireland must adhere to EU import/export rules. Goods moving from Great Britain into Northern Ireland will be subject to tariffs if they are “at-risk” of being moved into EU.
Continue reading: What’s the Northern Ireland Protocol?
Westminster introduced a bill to remove certain trading rules unilaterally. However, this has created friction and the EU threatened legal action against the UK.
Ms von der Leyen, however, suggested that the Irish parliament had discussed Thursday EU-UK relations with Mr Sunak. This was in contrast to his predecessors Liz Truss and Boris Johnson.
Talks with London on Thursday were marked “by a new, more pragmatic spirit” because the European Union (and the United Kingdom) are still part of the same extended family, even though we no longer live together.
She said, “My contacts with Prime Minister Sunak have been encouraging and I believe we can find the right way.”
“If the UK has the political will, I believe we can come to a positive conclusion.”
Sunak, von der Leyen agree to ‘work together’ to resolve NI Protocol row
The Commission president stated that the EU would meet “with our British friends” whenever it sits down, and will do so with an “honest heart and open mind”, to quote The Saw Doctors from Ireland.
She stated that she believes common sense and a focus “that really matters in Northern Ireland” will help to make progress in solving the practical problems Northern Ireland is facing.
She also said that the EU was “listening closely to” Northern Ireland’s civil society and businesses.
Ms von der Leyen cautioned, “But the consequences and the type of Brexit chosen by Britain cannot be completely removed.”
“The solutions that we find must ensure that Ireland’s single market continues to work in all parts of the European Union.
“I believe that if both sides are open to the possibility of a solution, it is possible to reach a mutually acceptable compromise. We have a responsibility to find it.
“I can assure you that Ireland can always rely on the European Union to uphold the Good Friday Agreement,”
“There cannot be a hard border on the island Ireland.”
Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign affairs minister, stated that he believes that a solution is within reach.