European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič has warned U.K. negotiators of growing impatience among EU countries over Northern Ireland trade issues and other outstanding post-Brexit problems, he told the FT in an interview.
Šefčovič said the next meeting of the EU-U.K. Joint Committee, a forum set up to oversee the Brexit withdrawal deal, in the week of June 7 should agree a joint “road map” for settling differences over the operation of the Northern Ireland trade border.
For that to work, Šefčovič says London has to show more creativity and pragmatism.
“To be quite honest all these solutions are coming from our side,” Šefčovič told the FT.
“It’s quite clear that, if we do not see positive developments, that the atmosphere would be more sour, [making it] more difficult to look for political compromises. The political environment would be much more challenging,” he said.
The Northern Ireland protocol is a cornerstone of last year’s post-Brexit trade agreement aimed at avoiding a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. But discussions on how to avoid trade obstacles there have “not been hugely productive,” David Frost, the U.K.’s chief negotiator told MPs recently.
Brussels sees the Northern Ireland protocol as a solution to the problems created by Brexit. But it has been blamed for street violence in Northern Ireland, with unionist politicians in the region calling on U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to scrap it.
Meanwhile, business groups are pushing for an agreement that helps alleviate trade disruption.