Opportunity for negotiations on Protocol should be urgently grasped – Aiken

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Opportunity for negotiations on Protocol should be urgently grasped – Aiken

Ulster Unionist Party Finance Spokesperson, Steve Aiken OBE MLA, has stated that EU-UK negotiations should replace megaphone diplomacy.

Steve Aiken said:

“On Tuesday our party pointed out that the Government`s Protocol Bill could create the space needed for renewed negotiations to deal with the flawed Protocol. The remarks today by Maros Sefcovic highlight that in response to the actions of the UK Government, the EU is now prepared to make further concessions on checks.

“It was not so long ago that we were told by the EU and their supporters that only the ‘rigorous implementation’ of the protocol would suffice. The shift in position on requirements for documentation, for trusted trader status and the sharing of data are to be welcomed, but they need to go a lot further. For goods staying solely within the UK the question again remains, if you can do away with 80% of the checks, why have any at all? There shouldn`t be any checks on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland that are staying in Northern Ireland.

“The issue of medicines also remains unresolved, despite the rhetoric. There has been movement from the EU, but not enough. This needs to be dealt with and brought to a satisfactory conclusion but the fact remains that medicines should never have been included in any negotiations in the first place.

“The current impasse between the EU and the UK, while regrettable, represents an opportunity to start serious negotiations which should be urgently grasped by both sides. The border in the Irish Sea fundamentally undermines the Belfast Agreement and must be dealt with. Negotiations should replace the megaphone diplomacy of the past week. It is time for negotiators to close the gaps, get rid of checks on goods coming into Northern Ireland from Great Britain that are staying here, and agree a solution that works for the people of Northern Ireland. Until they do, the restoration of the devolved institutions is unlikely and the Protocol will continue to undermine the Belfast Agreement.”