BRUSSELS (Reuters) -British and EU officials will hold their first talks in over seven months this week on the Northern Ireland Protocol, the part of the Brexit deal that governs the trading arrangements of the British province.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic tweeted on Friday that he had had a good conversation with British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and that their respective teams would meet soon.
“They both agreed that solutions needed to be found around the protocol. There will be technical-level talks, discussions, exchanges already this week,” an EU spokesperson told the Commission daily briefing on Monday.
The two sides last held formal discussions on Northern Ireland in February, both since proceeding with legal action against the other and Britain pressing ahead with legislation that would unilaterally scrap key parts of the protocol.
“The EU is committed to joint efforts, is committed to finding joint solutions. We need to find these solutions to bring predictability, certainty to people in Northern Ireland,” the EU spokesperson said.
The protocol, part of the Brexit divorce deal agreed by the EU and Britain, was designed to preserve peace by avoiding the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland
The fix places Northern Ireland in the EU single market for goods, meaning products can flow with ease to and from Ireland, but effectively places a border in the Irish Sea between the British mainland and its province, angering some pro-British unionists.
The Democratic Union Party (DUP) has said it will only move to restore Northern Ireland’s parliament, after elections in May, if all existing or planned post-Brexit checks on goods moving from Britain to Northern Ireland are removed.
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, Graham Fahy and William James, Editing by Kylie MacLellan)