Von der Leyen and Sunak to hold face-to-face talks on protocol

Von Der Leyen And Sunak To Hold Face-To-Face Talks On Protocol Von Der Leyen And Sunak To Hold Face-To-Face Talks On Protocol
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will meet British prime minister Rishi Sunak in the UK on Monday. Photo: PA Images
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Patrick Daly, PA Political Correspondent

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will hold face-to-face talks with British prime minister Rishi Sunak in the UK as they look to finalise a deal to fix issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol.

In a joint statement on Sunday, they confirmed Ms von der Leyen and Mr Sunak will meet to discuss the “range of complex challenges around” the protocol.

It comes after speculation mounted that a deal could be announced imminently, with both sides stating they are on the “cusp” of striking an agreement over the weekend.

“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.”

Speculation has been rife for the past week that the EU and UK are about to announce a plan designed to solve trade frictions caused by the protocol.

Ms von der Leyen had been due to travel to the UK on Saturday to hold talks with Mr Sunak, as well as meet Britain's King Charles III at Windsor Castle, but the plans were scrapped.

The latest announcement opens the door for a potential unveiling of fresh protocol terms during the German politician’s visit on Monday.

Speaking to The Sunday Times on Saturday, Mr Sunak said he planned to work all weekend to nail down revised terms as he looks to keep hardline Conservative Brexiteers and the DUP on side.

He told the newspaper he was “giving it everything we’ve got” to finalise a fix for the protocol, a Brexit treaty negotiated by former British prime minister Boris Johnson.


The protocol, signed by Mr Johnson in 2020, was designed to prevent a hard Irish Border after Brexit, with Northern Ireland continuing to follow EU rules on goods to prevent checks being needed when crossing into the Republic.

But the trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Britain has created tension among Unionists, with Mr Sunak admitting that it had “unbalanced” the Good Friday Agreement.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has issued seven tests that Mr Sunak’s new pact will have to meet in order to win the party’s backing, including addressing what he calls the “democratic deficit” of Northern Ireland being subject to EU rules while not having a say on them.

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