The UK has said that post-Brexit talks with the EU over Northern Ireland trade rules are constructive, but substantial differences remain.
Goods sent between Britain and Northern Ireland have to undergo customs checks as part of a protocol agreed before Brexit to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland which is an EU member.
Chief amongst the UK’s gripes with the EU is the role played by the European Court of Justice in policing the arrangement which Boris Johnson last week labelled as “not coherent with the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.”
“The talks this week were constructive and we’ve heard some things from the EU that we can work with – but the reality is that we are still far apart on the big issues, especially governance,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said in a statement released last night.
“Whether we’re able to establish that momentum soon will help us determine if we can bridge the gap or if we need to use Article 16,” the statement continued, which would allow the UK to take unilateral action to ease tension over border checks.
The UK wants to reduce the role of the European Court of Justice and is also seeking to renegotiate the implementation of customs and safety checks which currently affect meat, dairy and medical products most acutely.
Technical talks were held in Brussels last week and an EU team will arrive in London on Tuesday to continue discussions. Lead negotiators, Lord Frost and Maroš Šefčovič, are expected to meet at the end of next week.