Britain’s Frost: significant gaps remain with EU on N. Ireland

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DUBLIN, Nov 19 (Reuters) – The European Union hopes a change of tone by Britain in efforts to break an impasse over post-Brexit trade arrangements for Northern Ireland will be followed by actions, the European Commission’s Maros Sefcovic said on Friday

“Right now we need the UK government to reciprocate the significant move the EU has made. I noticed and welcome a recent change of tone from the UK government and we hope that actions will follow the words,” Sefcovic told a conference ahead of a meeting on the issue with his British counterpart on Friday.

The two sides agreed to intensify efforts to solve issues around the protocol this week, although British Brexit minister David Frost said “significant gaps” remained.

British Brexit Minister David Frost said on Friday there remained significant differences between the British and European Union positions on Northern Ireland and that triggering Article 16 was still “on the table”.

“There are a large number of issues that need to be fixed if we’re going to resolve this problem. That’s obviously part of the discussion, but they are still really quite significant gaps between us unfortunately,” Frost told reporters before a meeting with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic.

Frost said he did not expect any breakthroughs in their talks on Friday. “Obviously our preference is to see if we can find a negotiated way through this problem and if we can’t Article 16 remains on the table.” 

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Photo – European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic EPA-EFE/JOHN THYS / POOL

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