‘Long way to go’ on Northern Ireland trade agreement, Brexit minister warns

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Lord Frost was meeting European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic in Brussels as the two sides prepare for fresh negotiations on the post-Brexit Irish Sea trading mechanisms  (PA Archive)
Lord Frost was meeting European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic in Brussels as the two sides prepare for fresh negotiations on the post-Brexit Irish Sea trading mechanisms (PA Archive)

Brexit Minister Lord David Frost headed for Brussels for talks with EU leaders on Friday, warning there was still a “long way to go” before a compromise could be reached on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

With intense negotiations on revisions to the trading arrangements for Northern Ireland set to start next week, Lord Frost was meeting European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic to map out plans for the talks.

But despite the EU tabling a series of amendments to the Protocol, which seeks to avoid a hard border on Ireland by keeping Northern Ireland in the EU single market and the UK’s trading zone, Lord Frost warned Brussels it may need to make further compromises to avert a full-blown trade war.

In an interview with Politico, Lord Frost said: “Clearly they have proposed some changes; we do need to understand that detail, and we’ve begun that conversation, but there’s a long way to go. There needs to be significant change if we are to get an agreed solution.”

Although the EU has made significant concessions on customs and regulatory checks on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the two sides remain far apart on the question of the European Court of Justice’s role in policing the Protocol.

Lord Frost added: “The governance issue needs to be addressed seriously and if the EU are willing to have a conversation about that on which they move off existing positions we will be happy to have that conversation.”

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