Ursula Von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, is in London for a face-to-face meeting with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The leaders are expected to address the challenges of the Northern Ireland protocol deal.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab hinted that talks had made good progress on the issue of customs checks for goods travelling from mainland UK to Northern Ireland, as well as on providing reassurances to the Democratic Unionist Party that it could have a greater say over future EU rules that would affect the region.
While getting off the Eurostar train, Von der Leyen said she hopes to finalize a Brexit deal for Northern Ireland. The MP and President of the European Commission will focus on a trade agreement concerning the checking of goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of Great Britain.
The Northern Ireland protocol is a trading agreement established under Boris Johnson’s administration when the UK was in the process of removing itself from the European Union. It is designed to prevent a post-Brexit hard border with Ireland.
According to a joint statement by Rishi Sunak and Von der Leyen, the leaders “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.”
Von der Leyen tweeted about the meeting, stating, “I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to London to discuss shared practical solutions to the complex challenges of the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
Sunak noted in a conversation with The Sunday Times on Saturday that he planned on working all weekend to nail down revised terms as he looks to keep Conservative Brexiteers and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on his side.
Nonetheless, the Northern Ireland protocol raised Unionist tensions. Sunak stated that the agreement had “unbalanced” the Good Friday Agreement that contributed to the end of the Troubles’ bloodshed in the region.