EU-UK find no breakthrough in N. Ireland row

European Commissioner for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight Maros Sefcovic addresses lawmakers during a plenary session of Work Programme 2021 at the European Parliament in Brussels October 20, 2020. — Reuters pic
European Commissioner for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight Maros Sefcovic addresses lawmakers during a plenary session of Work Programme 2021 at the European Parliament in Brussels October 20, 2020. — Reuters pic

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BRUSSELS, April 16 — Late night talks between the EU and Britain to resolve a row over border checks in Northern Ireland ended without a breakthrough, officials said today.

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and UK Brexit minister David Frost met late yesterday in Brussels as a wave of rioting has raised fears that fallout from Brexit is destabilising the British province.

The European Union has also accused Britain of violating the Brexit divorce deal by unilaterally delaying border checks in Northern Ireland until October and launched a lawsuit against London last month over the issue.

This legal action will continue “as long as necessary”, the EU said in the statement after the talks.

In the talks, Sefcovic insisted “that solutions can only be found through joint actions and through joint bodies,” the EU statement said.

The British side said that recent technical talks between Brussels and London “had begun to clarify the outstanding issues, and some positive momentum had been established”. 

However, “a number of difficult issues remained and it was important to continue to discuss them,” the UK statement added.

The UK agreed to “intensify” the talks and both sides said they would engage with businesses and civil society in Northern Ireland to try to defuse any further fallout from Brexit.

The talks are centred on a special protocol of the Brexit divorce deal designed to prevent the emergence of a “hard border” between the UK province Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member.

The special arrangement shifts customs and regulatory checks to Northern Irish ports on goods arriving from mainland Britain, a very controversial move for communities in Northern Ireland loyal to London. — AFP

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