Brexit LIVE: Boris hit with three-week deadline to fix EU deal – Ireland sends warning

Brexit 'has no advantages' says Sylvie Bermann

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Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, a key voice in Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels, said there is now pressure on both sides to begin resolving the matter before the loyalist marching season in June. Mr Coveney after a meeting with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic: “The last thing we want to see is moving into a marching season this summer, without Covid-19 restrictions keeping people in their homes, without many of these issues resolved politically. So, I think there is a pressure that we find a way to come up with solutions by some point in June, and I think the Commission is very much aware of that and I’m sure the British government is too.”

He added: “It’s not for me as an Irish minister to be setting deadlines.

“My role in this is to work as part of the EU, but also to reach out to colleagues in London as well, and of course in Belfast, to find a sensible, pragmatic way forward here that everyone can live with.”

The Irish Foreign Minister said a meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee, which implements the Protocol, could take place in the first week of June, which would be chaired by Mr Sefcovic and UK counterpart Lord Frost.

Mr Coveney is hopeful such a meeting could open routes for a roadmap to manage and implement the Protocol, urging both sides to work together “technically, legally and politically” in order to reach a joint veterinary agreement that would “reduce the need for the majority of inspections at ports in Northern Ireland.”

Brussels has warned this would require the UK to align with EU food safety and animal health rules to cut the number of checks and controls on the Irish Sea, but Britain is demanding an “equivalence” agreement to measure outcomes.

The Irish Foreign Minister told RTE News: “The British position has been clear for many months that they would like to see equivalence of standards recognised in the UK and the EU’s position is equally firm and clear that they can’t do that legally without setting a precedent for a whole load of other third countries that the EU has a relationship with, so instead what they want is alignment with EU rules on sanctuary and phytosanitary veterinary standards.”

“There is going to be a need for a solution that is somewhat different to both of those purist positions if you like, and I think that’s what technical teams are looking at the moment, and whether it’s possible to put that together. We’ll have to wait and see.

He added: “There are various ideas being discussed, but it isn’t a straightforward issue and a lot of countries in the EU are watching how the Commission resolves this because, of course, the most important issue for the EU is that we protect the integrity of our own single market and the member states within it.”

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