Brexit: New NI Protocol proposals to be brought by EU

The EU will bring forward new proposals for the Northern Ireland Protocol next week, European Commission Vice President Maros Šefčovič has said.

He said he hopes they would form the basis for intensive talks with the UK.

The protocol avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland by keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.

But unionists argue it creates a trade border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

They say it undermines Northern Ireland’s constitutional position as part of the UK.

Mr Šefčovič told an event in Dublin that he hoped talks would begin before the end of October.

He said his proposals would be “very far reaching” and that he hoped they would be seen as such.

A UK government spokesperson said: “Significant changes are needed to the Protocol in order to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and the peace process.

“We await a formal response from the EU to the proposals set out in our command paper. Any proposals must be subject to genuine negotiation and the commission mustn’t take a ‘take it or leave it’ approach.

“If solutions cannot be agreed soon, we will need to act using the Article 16 safeguard mechanism to address the disruption that the protocol is causing on the ground”.

Triggering Article 16 would suspend part of the protocol.

Speaking to the BBC in Brussels, United States national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned the British government that suspending the protocol would be a “serious risk to stability”.

He said any possibility of a return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was “of serious concern to the United States”.

Mr Sullivan said both the UK and the EU should work together “in a constructive way to find a deal and a way forward”.