Reuters. File photo: A ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland’ sign is seen on October 13, 2021 in Jonesboro, Northern Ireland, on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. REUTERS / Clodagh Kilcoyne
By David Milken
LONDON (Reuters) – The United Kingdom said on Saturday that talks with the European Union on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland were constructive, but that significant differences remained.
Goods operating between Britain and Northern Ireland are currently facing customs checks as part of an agreement reached before Brexit to avoid further controversial border checks between Northern Ireland, part of the UK and member of the European Union.
However, the UK and the EU disagree on how tariffs and safety checks can be enforced, which fall heavily on meat, dairy and medical products in particular. Britain also objected to the EU’s role in the agreement.
“This week’s discussion was constructive and we heard some things from the EU that we can work with – but the reality is that we are still a long way off on the big issue, especially in governance,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said in a statement. Statement released late Saturday.
Mentioning the possibility of taking unilateral steps to facilitate trade flows, the statement added, “Whether we will soon be able to establish that momentum will help us determine whether we can fill the gap or use our Article 16.”
Britain has said talks with EU negotiators will move from Brussels to London next week and its Brexit minister David Frost will meet with European Commission Vice President Maros Sefkovic over the weekend.
Ireland’s European Affairs Minister Thomas Byrne said on Thursday that the dispute could be resolved in a few weeks.
The EU on October 13 made detailed proposals to facilitate the transportation of goods, but refused to give up the role of the European Court of Justice.
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