Northern Ireland: Timmermans says 'solution is within reach'
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It follows the US President’s intervention in the Brexit dispute in September when he expressed concerns about the Irish border. There are escalating tensions between the UK and the EU about the Northern Ireland Protocol – an agreement which governs the moment of goods across the Irish border.
The UK Government is widely believed to be considering triggering Article 16 of the Protocol – which allows either side to unilaterally suspend parts of the agreement if the deal has caused undue harm to trade.
The Protocol – intended to allow access to the EU’s single market via Northern Ireland – has caused issues and border delays as goods have to be checked when they move across the Irish Sea.
In July, Boris Johnson said that “all the conditions have been met” to trigger Article 16.
It is believed the UK Government could make such a move later this month.
In September, Mr Biden warned peace in Northern Ireland should not be jeopardised because of the dispute.
During talks in Washington DC, the Prime Minister said that they were in agreement on the issue and that no one wanted to imbalance the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Biden told White House media that he felt “very strongly” about the Protocol.
“We spent an enormous amount of time and effort, the United States, it was a major bipartisan effort made.
“And I would not at all like to see, nor I might add would many of my Republican colleagues like to see, a change in the Irish accords, the end result having a closed border in Ireland.”
US officials told the Politico Playbook that while the issue of Northern Ireland would not necessarily feature in today’s meeting with the European Commission president.
However, they added that Mr Biden may raise the issue during the meeting.
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It has also been reported that the meeting will follow up on last month’s G20 summit in Rome and the ongoing COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
Ms von der Leyen is due to return to Brussels on Thursday.
Negotiations between the UK and the EU are ongoing concerning how to resolve the dispute around the Protocol.
However, last Friday Brexit Secretary Lord Frost said a meeting with the European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic in Brussels had been “limited”.
He added that there were still “significant gaps” between the two parties and said: “Time is running out on these talks if we are to make progress.”
The EU has already rejected calls for a new Protocol to be drafted.
Lord Frost said scrapping the Protocol was “very much on the table and has been since July”.
Instead, in an attempt to appease the UK, earlier last month the European Commission suggested some reforms to the existing agreement.
They include cutting paperwork on imports via the Irish border, in exchange for more import data for surveillance.
It also said it would be willing to cut checks on food safety, including cold meats such as British sausages.
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