The European Union and United Kingdom announced an agreement to regulate complex arrangements for Northern Ireland after Brexit as both sides prepared for a face-to-face showdown to attempt to reach a wider trade deal.
The United Kingdom and European Union continue to attempt to reach an agreement on a new trading relationship after nearly five decades of economic integration.
The United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31 and entered a transition period to permit talks to establish a trade relationship with zero tariffs and zero quotas.
As Boris Johnson toured a London hospital for the United Kingdom’s historic rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine he said, “I am always hopeful, but I have to be honest with you, the situation at the moment is tricky.”
Johnson continued “Our friends have to understand the UK has left the EU to exercise democratic control. We are a long way apart still.”
Northern Ireland will have the UK’s only land border with the bloc from next year, and that border is meant to stay open in all circumstances as part of the 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence over British rule.
Senior UK minister Michael Gove and European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said an agreement had been made “in principle” on border arrangements for Northern Ireland, which will cover goods passing from the British mainland to the province, and to the European Union’s single market via Ireland.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet European Union commission chief Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels today to try to find the breakthrough that has escaped their trade negotiators for months.
The United Kingdom’s deadline for leaving the European Union single market is fast approaching in just over three weeks.
Michel Bernard Barnier, a French politician serving as the European Commission’s Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom is thought to have told European Union ministers he believes that a no-deal Brexit is likely than any last-minute trade deal being agreed between the two nations.
Johnson confidently stated the United Kingdom will thrive whatever the outcome of the negotiations and has rejected asking for a longer transition which could prolong the negotiations into 2021.
Johnson said “There may come a moment when we have to acknowledge that it’s time to draw stumps…But you know, we will prosper mightily either way.”