Top negotiators from Britain and the European Union are meeting in hopes of settling their thorny dispute over Northern Ireland trade
LONDON – Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called on Britain and the European Union to rebuild their ties, as she and the bloc’s top Brexit officials met on Thursday to negotiate a thorny dispute over Northern Ireland’s trade.
Truss and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefkovic were meeting at Chevening House, the foreign secretary’s official country retreat, in southeast England.
Truss urged the EU to show a “practical approach” to solving the problems that have soured relations since Britain left the 27-nation bloc last year.
“As fellow believers in freedom and democracy, we should be able to reach an agreement that delivers for Northern Ireland and allows us to unleash the full potential of our relationship,” she said.
Sefkovic said he wanted “stability” and “predictability” for Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK that shares a border with an EU member and where conflicts over post-Brexit rules are centered.
As part of the divorce deal, both sides agreed to place Northern Ireland within the EU’s tariff-free single market, in order to maintain an open border on the island of Ireland – a key to Northern Ireland’s peace process. column.
This created a new customs limit for goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of Britain in the Irish Sea, even if they were part of the same country. The arrangement has brought red tape and supply problems to some businesses, and has angered Northern Ireland’s British federalists, who say the Czechs undermine Northern Ireland’s place in the UK and destabilize the delicate political balance. on which peace rests.
Truss was appointed Britain’s chief EU negotiator last month after Brexit minister David Frost stepped down, citing disenchantment with the Conservative government’s policies on issues including taxation and COVID-19.
Brexit negotiations made limited progress under Frost, regarded by many EU officials as a blatant hard-liner. Truss has struck a warm tone and was welcoming Sefkovic with an all-British dinner of Scottish smoked salmon, Welsh lamb and Kent apple pie.
But the truss has so far stuck to Britain’s insistence that the EU remove its top court from its role in settling any dispute over the Brexit deal – an idea that the bloc flatly rejects.
The UK is calling for major changes to arrangements and has threatened to use an emergency break clause to suspend parts of the legally binding Brexit divorce agreement if no solution is found. This would trigger EU retaliation and could spiral into a trade war between the UK and the 27-nation bloc.
The EU accused Britain of failing to respond positively to its “far-reaching proposals” to ease the burden on Northern Ireland businesses.
Follow all stories on post-Brexit developments at https://apnews.com/hub/Brexit.