UK, EU Start Northern Ireland Talks for First Time in Eight Months

(Bloomberg) — The U.K. and the European Union have resumed talks over their post-Brexit relationship, in a sign that relations may be thawing eight months after negotiations reached a stalemate.

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Although contact continued from time to time over technical aspects of the Northern Ireland protocol — the part of the Brexit deal that keeps the province in the EU’s single market for goods to avoid a hard border being imposed on the island of Ireland –, celebrate it this week. the first meaningful talks since February, a spokesperson for the European Commission said on Monday.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and the EU’s chief negotiator Maros Sefcovic promised to find joint solutions in a conversation last week, the spokesman said.

UK Minister of State for Northern Ireland Steve Baker – who was one of the strongest advocates of a ‘hard’ Brexit during the negotiations between Theresa May and Boris Johnson – issued an apology to the EU on Monday for the government’s behavior during the those years.

Baker told Ireland’s national broadcaster RTE that he is “happy to eat humble pie” to restore broken relations and is confident that a solution can be found on post-Brexit trade arrangements for Northern Ireland.

“If we negotiate without preconditions and sit together in a spirit of goodwill, we can de-escalate this problem and we can find a deal that works for everyone, respecting legitimate interests everyone north-south and east-west,” Baker said.

The United Kingdom has been in the spotlight with the bloc since talks broke down earlier this year when current Prime Minister Liz Truss was responsible for negotiations to resolve issues related to Northern Ireland. The region’s power-sharing government is currently suspended as unionists refuse to participate until the protocol is lifted, as it treats Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the UK.

In one of her last acts as Foreign Secretary, Truss introduced legislation to scrap large parts of the Brexit deal and replace it with new rules on customs, tax and arbitration checks – a move that has soured relations with the bloc more worse already.

While that bill is still being pursued, and Truss continues to demonstrate her euroskeptic credentials to members of the Tory community, her talks and attendance at the new European political “club of nations” show the French President , Emmanuel Macron, in Prague later this week. softening approach.

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