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UK seeks significant changes to NI Protocol

Lord Frost also urged the EU to “grasp this opportunity, take full account of the issues at stake, and help deliver the brighter future that is within reach.”…reports Asian Lite News.

The UK government is seeking to negotiate significant changes to the post-Brexit trading arrangements it agreed with the EU for Northern Ireland (NI).

The government on Wednesday published a Command Paper setting out that it is seeking to negotiate significant changes to the NI Protocol.

It outlined how Protocol is not working in its current form or delivering on its objectives.

The Protocol will not be scrapped, but significant changes are needed to achieve a sustainable ‘new balance’ which puts UK-EU relationship on a stable footing, the government has stated.

“The Protocol has failed to deliver on some of its core objectives and we cannot ignore the political, societal, and economic difficulties this continues to create in Northern Ireland,” Lord Frost, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, said.

“That is why we need a new approach based on negotiation and the finding of a new and enduring consensus. There is a real opportunity to move forward in a way that protects the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and put UK-EU relations on a stable footing,” he added.

Lord Frost also urged the EU to “grasp this opportunity, take full account of the issues at stake, and help deliver the brighter future that is within reach.”

Meanwhile, the EU said it would not agree to renegotiate the terms of the 2019 deal.

European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said the EU was willing to “seek creative solutions within the framework of the protocol” to ease border issues, the BBC reported.

But he added the 27-member union would not agree to a “renegotiation” of the Brexit deal. “Respecting international legal obligations is of paramount importance,” BBC quoted Šefčovič as saying.

Government said it had tried to operate the Protocol in good faith, but the problems were significant and growing. It said the Chairman of Marks & Spencer on Wednesday morning warned that they were having to delist products in Northern Ireland because of the way the Protocol is currently working.

It added that the economic, political and cultural ties that exist East-West must be treated with the same sensitivity as those that exist North-South.

“The past few months have shown the current approach to the Protocol is simply not working. Already we have seen trade diverted, supply chains disrupted, and increased costs due to added bureaucracy. This is all having a considerable impact on everyday life in Northern Ireland,” Brandon Lewis MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said.

“The new approach we have set out today, based on negotiation and consensus, recognises that a sustainable solution will require significant changes to the way the Protocol is being approached. Working together we can find a new balance that better reflects the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland,” he added.

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