EU, UK made progress on resumed N.Ireland talks - Ireland's Coveney

  • World
  • Wednesday, 12 Oct 2022

FILE PHOTO: Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney attends a news conference ahead of a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., April 19, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

BELFAST (Reuters) -Britain and the European Union made some progress last week on their long running post-Brexit trade row over Northern Ireland after talks resumed for the first time in over seven months, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Wednesday.

The two sides are deadlocked over the Northern Ireland protocol, the part of the Brexit deal that mandated checks on goods moving to Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom due to its open land border with EU member Ireland.

Britain wants to scrap checks on goods staying in Northern Ireland, while the European Union is prepared to ease them.

"Yes they have made some progress," Coveney told reporters, describing the past two weeks that included talks between senior Irish and British ministers as "the best two weeks of negotiation" this year.

"I think there is now in place the start of a process that I hope can deliver through negotiation, but it is just too early to tell whether that is going to be possible or not."

Coveney declined to say what major issues of disagreement remained but singled out the sharing of data around goods travelling into Northern Ireland and staying there as being one area where progress could be made.

Asked if it would be after Christmas before that happens, Coveney said no, that the EU was looking for a breakthrough on some of the issues over the next few weeks and to make "a step forward" on the contentious ones by the end of October

"The next number of months are not going to be talking around in circles, like we have seen in the last number of years," Coveney said.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss said on Wednesday that her government would proceed with a planned law to override some parts of the protocol if a negotiated settlement cannot be reached.

(Reporting by Amanda Ferguson, writing by Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Editing by Toby Chopra and Nick Macfie)

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