EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will fly to the UK on Monday as the bloc continues to work towards a solution on the Northern Ireland Protocol with Rishi Sunak’s government. In a joint statement today it was announced that the two parties seek to hammer out changes that could provide “shared, practical solutions” for the hated deal. The announcement provides a ray of hope for those who want the two governments to strike a deal that alleviates concerns over the deal’s impact on trade within the UK.
The statement reads: “Today, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak agreed to continue their work in person towards shared, practical solutions for the range of complex challenges around the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“President von der Leyen will therefore meet with the Prime Minister in the UK tomorrow.”
Officials on both sides of the English Channel have signaled positive progress on a new deal since Mr. Sunak became Prime Minister.
Number 10 said last week that a call between the Prime Minister and Ms von der Leyen signaled “good progress”.
While he stopped short of saying whether a new deal could come by Monday, February 27, he said there was “real progress”.
Mr Raab said: “We want to make sure all the pieces are in place. But I think, hopefully, there will be good news in a matter of days, not weeks.”
The Prime Minister shared similar optimism while speaking with the Sunday Times this weekend.
He said UK negotiators were “giving it everything” to strike a deal.
The Government and the EU have spent months locked in negotiations over the protocol, which was first agreed by Boris Johnson’s Government to prevent a hard trade border on the island of Ireland.
While it has done as intended, unionists have complained about economic barriers erected by the process.
The conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has refused to form an executive with the majority Sinn Feinn in Stormont unless officials agree to scrap the protocol.
The assembly has struggled to function since last year, with another executive election scheduled for 2023.