Brexit Britain is “not worlds apart” from Brussels over the Northern Ireland deal, according to negotiator Maros Sefcovic. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has faced backlash from some Tory MPs that he is softening over the Irish Sea border treaty in hopes of reaching a deal with the bloc.
Mr Sefcovic said he was “convinced that where there’s a will, there’s a way” to reduce border checks to allow British goods to enter Northern Ireland with ease.
He told a meeting of politicians in Westminster: “I believe that our respective positions are not worlds apart if we genuinely explore the EU’s robust proposals.
“I believe that it could be done and if there is political will, I’m sure that we can sort it out really within a couple of weeks.”
However, he did point out that not all checks could be abolished and implied that the European Court of Justice would still hold jurisdiction in Northern Ireland.
Mr Sunak is currently in Egypt for the COP27 climate summit, where he met with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “They agreed on the importance of working together to agree a resolution [on the Protocol].”
Mr Sefcovic added during his speech: “This is surely the moment to abandon recourse to unilateral action, such as the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.”
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He added during his appearance before the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly in Britain: “Is the UK Government truly prepared to deprive Northern Ireland of this opportunity?
“On top of it, unilaterally disapplying core parts of the Protocol would also have serious consequences for our trade relationship.
“More divergence will carry even more cost and will further deepen the barriers to trade between the EU and the UK.”