Time running out for solution to Brexit dispute in Northern Ireland

2 minutes

LONDON, June 8 - Britain will tell the European Union on Wednesday that time is running out to find solutions to ease the post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland, saying further legal action by the bloc would not make life any easier for people in the province.

Since its exit from the EU late last year, Northern Ireland's relations with Britain have soured, with both sides accusing each other of acting in bad faith over part of their trade agreement, which covers goods movements to Britain.

Britons Minister David Frost will meet the European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic in London in an effort to break the divide over Northern Ireland Protocol, but so far months of talks have done little to break the deadlock.

Brussels accuses London of breaking the agreement in failing to implement checks on some goods moving from Northern Ireland to Britain, and has launched legal action over the unilateral extension of a grace period by the British government.

Northern Ireland says it has no choice because some of the checks hamper London's deliveries to London supermarkets. It points to rising tensions among British unionists in the province.

How will I meet Maros Sefcovic later today? Time is short and practical solutions are needed to make the protocol work, Frost said in a statement, calling for flexibility to find solutions that enjoy the confidence of all communities.

Further threats of legal action and trade retaliation from the EU won't make life any easier for the Strabane Buyer who can't buy their favourite product.

On Tuesday, Sefcovic wrote an article in the Telegraph newspaper when he warned Britain that the EU would not be afraid of reacting swiftly if it thought Britain breached its legal obligations.

London and Brussels say they want to find solutions but accuse each other of not accommodating various competing proposals.

The grace period on some goods expired on 30 June and a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that there was no case whatsoever for preventing chilled meat from being sold in Northern Ireland.

What is needed is pragmatism and common sense solutions to resolve the issues as they are before us, Frost said. This work is important. And it is always more urgent. When somebody asks questions on the Net, isn’t it refreshing to get them sorted out as I know they need one?

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