Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin has said, There is “serious intent” in the EU to solve post-Brexit difficulties over the Northern Ireland border. Speaking to the BBC, he said the “mood music” surrounding EU-UK negotiations had improved in recent weeks.
The Northern Ireland Protocol in the Brexit deal aims to avoid implementing border checks on the island of Ireland.It keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods and allows free-flowing trade with the EU.
But the protocol also creates a trade border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, meaning some goods such as meat and eggs are subject to checks when they enter Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
Mr Martin insisted there was “not an abundance of checks” on the border and that Northern Ireland benefitted from having access to both the European and UK markets.
However, he added that the EU “sincerely” wanted to engage with the problems, which he said could be “resolved with goodwill on all sides”.Loyalist demonstrators protesting against the Northern Ireland protocol in Belfast earlier this year.And he warned the UK against acting unilaterally, saying it would “undermine” relationships.
The Taoiseach’s comments come ahead of a meeting between the UK’s Brexit Minister Lord Frost and the EU Commission Vice-President Maros Šefčovič in Brussels on Friday aimed at resolving problems arising from the protocol.
He acknowledged that “there have been periods during these talks when they’ve dragged on with very little happening” but added that “now there’s a bit of engagement, of serious intent”.
Mr Martin said the protocol was “never going to be perfect”, adding: “It’s important that we don’t allow perfect become the enemy of the good.”
Mr Martin is an affable kind of politician. UK ministers talk well of him in private. And clearly, like many leaders around the continent, and indeed like Downing Street, he would rather that a deal was done.