11 March 2021

EU ambassador to UK calls for end to point scoring post-Brexit

11 March 2021

The European Union’s ambassador to the UK has called on London and Brussels to “give up on trying to score points” and ensure there is trust between both sides.

Joao Vale de Almeida told a Westminster briefing that he wanted there to be the “best possible relationship” between Britain and the EU post-Brexit amid disputes over trade arrangements.

He said the UK and EU had a “special relationship” as he called for the two sides to focus on making the agreements already reached work.

It comes after the Government last week announced that it was unilaterally extending a series of “grace periods” to allow businesses in Northern Ireland more time to adapt to post-Brexit rules.

The move has infuriated Brussels which accused the UK of breaching commitments which Boris Johnson signed up to in the Northern Ireland Protocol of the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

The EU is not believed to be minded to renegotiate the Protocol.

Trust is maybe the most important commodity in international agreements

Mr Vale de Almeida said: “I think we need to make an effort to change the mindset and give up on trying to score points … and focus ourselves on what we can do for making out of the agreements that we made – the Withdrawal Agreement on one side and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the other.

“With coherence, with consistency and with common willingness to move together…

“For all that we need to have high levels of trust – mutual trust.

“Trust is maybe the most important commodity in international agreements.

“When there is no trust, when levels of trust go down, you are less capable of finding solutions.”

His comments also follow a row between the UK and EU over vaccines after the European Council president said that the UK imposed an “outright ban” on coronavirus vaccine exports.

Prime Minister Mr Johnson hit back at Brussels on Wednesday, telling MPs that the UK has not “blocked the export of a single Covid-19 vaccine” as he sought to correct the suggestion by Charles Michel.

A senior EU diplomat was summoned to the Foreign Office on Wednesday morning over the row, and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has written to Mr Michel seeking to correct the record.

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