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EU offers border ‘express lane’ to solve N. Ireland Brexit row

Designing the protocol was a major source of friction in Britain’s drawn-out divorce from the European Union after it voted to leave the bloc in 2016…reports Asian Lite News.

The UK has called for “intensive talks” with the European Union (EU) on the Northern Ireland Protocol after both sides offered their own proposals to amend it.

In its proposal package published earlier Wednesday, the EU proposed a type of “express lane” to facilitate the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, including cutting customs formalities and simplified certification and an 80 per cent reduction of the checks for more retail goods for the Northern Ireland’s consumers, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The EU have now published their proposals in response to those in our Command Paper. We are studying the detail and will of course look at them seriously and constructively,” a British government spokesperson said in a statement late Wednesday.

“The next step should be intensive talks on both our sets of proposals, rapidly conducted, to determine whether there is common ground to find a solution,” the spokesperson said.

The EU proposals came in response to a new legal text put forward by the UK’s Brexit Minister David Frost on Tuesday.

Frost said the protocol is the biggest source of mistrust between the UK and the EU and demands “significant change”.

Northern Ireland is at the centre of the post-Brexit trade dispute between Britain and the EU.

As part of the Brexit deal, the Protocol stipulates that Northern Ireland remains in the EU single market and customs union to avoid a hard border between the region and the Republic of Ireland.

However, this leads to a new “regulatory” border between Britain and Northern Ireland.

For months, the UK has complained the rigid operation of the protocol, part of the Brexit deal, is unacceptable because it has severely disrupted trade, affected consumers and contributed to political instability.

Business welcomes movement

Northern Irish business groups welcomed “signs of movement from both sides” after the European Commission on Wednesday put a package of measures to Britain that could ease the transit of goods to Northern Ireland.

The measures are designed to ease customs controls, such as the clearance of meat, dairy and other food products and the flow of medicines to the British province from the British mainland that have been hindered by barriers introduced under the Northern Ireland protocol.

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