Coveney suggests that Brexit issues related to the NI Protocol may be resolved by Christmas.

John Campbell
BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor

Image source, Reuters

Simon Coveney said that while some problems are easily solved, others might take “a little longer”.

Simon Coveney, Irish Foreign Minister has indicated that Northern Ireland Protocol problems could be resolved before Christmas.

He stated that this was EU’s hope, but that “we’ll be seeing” over the weekend whether that’s realistic or not.

Following a meeting at the European Commission Vice-President Maros Sezefovic’s, he spoke in Brussels.

The UK’s Brexit Minister Lord Frost will be meeting Mr Sefcovic on Friday.

The protocol refers to the portion of the Brexit deal which prevents an Irish hard border and keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single marketplace for goods.

  • Article 16: Why is it important?

It also establishes a new border for trade between Northern Ireland (and the rest of Britain), something that the EU allows. This is creating problems for many companies.

Although it has offered a set of reforms, the UK seeks more fundamental changes.

There are many ways to resolve these problems.

The UK threatened to invoke Article 16 in accordance with the Protocol. This allows the use of unilateral “safeguards” measures when the deal causes serious practical difficulties or diverts trade.

These safeguards would mean suspending parts the deal. The EU feels this would not be right.

  • EU accepts a ‘changing tone” in NI Protocol negotiations
  • What Brexit means for Northern Ireland

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom stated Monday that he would prefer a negotiation solution to the Northern Ireland Protocol’s problems. This still appears possible.

“But, if we invoke Article 16 (which by the way is an entirely legitimate part of the protocol), we will do it reasonably and properly.”

Coveney claimed that while some problems are easily solved, others take longer.

He said that there is no doubt that, if the sides want to… these problems could be resolved by Christmas.


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