EUROPE: NI Protocol talks between UK and EU to continue.

As published on bbc.co.uk, Thursday 27 October, 2022.

EU-UK talks will continue on how to fix issues with the post-Brexit treaty known as the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Following a phone call on Thursday afternoon, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and his European Commission counterpart, Maroš Šefčovič, tweeted that talks will continue.

Mr Šefčovič said the EU's commitment to finding joint solutions was unwavering.

Mr Cleverly said the priority was to uphold the Good Friday Agreement and protect political stability.

Mr Šefčovič said joint solutions were the only way to ensure certainty in Northern Ireland.

The UK has said it wants a fundamental rewrite of the treaty while the EU insists sufficient "flexibilities" can be found within the existing text.

A key issue is how far checks can be eased on goods arriving into Northern Ireland from Great Britain - but the UK has also said it wants changes on governance, state aid and tax arrangements.

If negotiations fail, legislation was initiated - during Boris Johnson's premiership - that could allow ministers to scrap parts of the treaty; a move the EU considers completely illegal.

Brussels has strongly hinted it would hit Britain with trade sanctions if the government started to unilaterally change parts of the mutually-agreed treaty.

Sources on both sides say that the timing of today's call wasn't particularly linked with tonight's election deadline in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland politicians have failed to come to agreement in last-ditch efforts to restore power-sharing government ahead of a legal deadline to call a new election.

Members of Northern Ireland's second largest part, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), have said they will not return to government until unionist concerns with the protocol are resolved.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has said he will call an election after the deadline passes after midnight.

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