Wed. Apr 7th, 2021
Taoiseach calls for ‘reset’ of UK-EU relations to solve Brexit issues

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has called for a “reset” of the relationship between the EU and the UK to resolve issues stemming from the Northern Ireland Protocol.

                                                    <p class="no_name">The Taoiseach lamented the deterioration of diplomatic relations between the bloc and the UK following rows over Brexit and the supply of Covid-19 vaccines.</p>
                                                    <p class="no_name">The Northern Ireland Protocol, designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland post-Brexit, has caused unrest among both unionists and loyalists, who have called for it to be scrapped.</p>
                                                    <p class="no_name">In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Martin said he has told the EU the bloc’s relationship must be “constructive”.</p>
                                                    <p class="no_name">He said: “I think we need to reset the relationship.</p>
                                                    <p class="no_name">“I’ve made it very clear to our <a class="search" href="/topics/topics-7.1213540?article=true&amp;tag_organisation=European+Union">European Union</a> partners that the British-Irish relationship is a unique one, historically rooted.</p>
                                                    <h4 class="crosshead">‘Joint custodians’</h4><p class="no_name">“We’re both joint custodians of the (Good Friday) Agreement and nothing can come between us in respect of making sure that we work constructively together.</p>
                                                                                                                                                                                        <p class="no_name">“That’s our aim and our objective as a Government – to maintain a constructive relationship with Britain.”</p>
                                                    <p class="no_name">The Taoiseach said he has argued that “the only future has to be a constructive UK-EU relationship”.</p>
                                                    <p class="no_name">The relationship, already damaged by Brexit, deteriorated further due to the EU’s brief suspension of the Northern Ireland Protocol in a row over vaccines.</p>
                                                    <p class="no_name">The UK also suspended elements of the protocol unilaterally, by suspending customs checks on goods travelling between Britain and Northern Ireland, a move dubbed “silly” by the Taoiseach.</p>
                                                    <p class="no_name">The premier said the EU has already done a lot to “facilitate the uniqueness” of the protocol, but acknowledged there is “work to be done... to see what we can fine-tune”.</p>
                                                    <h4 class="crosshead">Tackle</h4><p class="no_name">He called for the use of special committees to tackle difficulties arising from the protocol, which have been provided for under the Withdrawal Agreement.</p>

                                                    <p class="no_name">He said: “We’ve got to try to work those committees to see, can we deal with those issues and make life as easy as possible for businesses.”</p>
                                                    <p class="no_name">Despite these setbacks, the Taoiseach believes the relationship can get back on track.</p>
                                                    <p class="no_name">“I think it makes sense for Britain that it really works on its relationship with the EU. The EU is ready to engage,” he said.</p>
                                                    <p class="no_name">He told the paper that UK officials have been more constructive in recent weeks.</p>
                                                    <p class="no_name">The move towards a “win-win” deal on the supply of Covid-19 vaccines across <a class="search" href="/topics/topics-7.1213540?article=true&amp;tag_location=Europe">Europe</a> and the UK is a “very important” sign, he added. –PA</p>
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