Gaps remain as Britain, EU agree to continue work on N.Ireland trade issues
(Adds joint statement after talks) LONDON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Gaps remain between Britain and the European Union in talks to try to resolve a row over post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's spokesman said, as the two sides agreed to continue scoping work.
- United Kingdom
Gaps remain between Britain and the European Union in talks to try to resolve a row over post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's spokesman said, as the two sides agreed to continue scoping work. British foreign minister James Cleverly and European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic agreed during a video call on Monday that work should carry on "in a constructive spirit".
"The two sides discussed the range of existing challenges over the last two years and the need to find solutions together," the pair said in a joint statement following their meeting. "They agreed that this scoping work for potential solutions should continue in a constructive and collaborative spirit, taking careful account of each other's legitimate interests."
After months of deadlock and hostility, there is growing optimism in Britain and parts of the EU that a resolution is within reach to the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol, the part of the Brexit deal that mandated checks on some goods moving to the province from the rest of the United Kingdom. The talks gained momentum
last week when the EU agreed to use a real-time British database tracking goods moving across the Irish sea.
But Sunak's spokesman earlier played down media reports that the negotiations were about to enter the final so-called "tunnel" phase. Asked if the final talks were close, the spokesman said: "I would guide away from that sort of speculation at the moment. Again, emphasising there are still gaps in our position that need to be resolved to address these problems."
Still, over the last few months, the tone of talks to try to resolve differences over the protocol has softened, with the antagonism that marked the discussions since 2019 replaced by what appears to be a new push to find a negotiated settlement.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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