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EC willing to negotiate trading arrangements of NIR, Britain: EC official

The European Commission is willing to negotiate trading arrangements for Northern Ireland and Britain. “Our doors are open for negotiations but it has to be constructive negotiations and it cannot be done in a way that we negotiate but the result is given in advance,” European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič told a news conference in Brussels.

The EU official is due to deliver a speech in London later on Wednesday, two days after legislation allowing Britain to scrap some of the rules on post-Brexit Northern Ireland trade passed the first of many parliamentary tests.

The result as it was presented in the bill is completely unacceptable to the European Union because it simply breaches international law and the most important agreement we have signed just two years ago,” Vice President Šefčovič said.

Stability and legal certainty

He added that his message in London would consist of the Commission’s proposals to reduce customs documentation and checks for goods travelling from Britain to its province Northern Ireland which would bring stability and legal certainty.

According to him, the proposals in question would also prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland, which has been avoided by keeping Northern Ireland in the EU single market for goods.

The original deal

The Brexit divorce deal means goods can flow with ease from Northern Ireland to the rest of the island but effectively places a border in the Irish Sea between the British mainland and its province, which has angered some pro-British unionists.

London accuses Brussels of applying the rules on goods trade in a heavy-handed way.

Sefcovic said fleshed-out solutions to the difficulties were “on the table,” but needed political will from Britain to move forward.

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