Protocol is ‘solution’ to Brexit issues – Ursula von der Leyen
Mrs von der Leyen also said the Northern Ireland Protocol is not the problem behind a series of issues the region has faced in recent months.
She made the comments during a visit to Dublin to formally approve the Irish Government’s proposals for projects funded by the European recovery and resilience plan.
The meeting comes at a time of tension between the UK and EU over the implementation of the Protocol.
Speaking following a meeting with Irish premier Micheal Martin, Mrs von der Leyen said: “The Protocol is the solution to the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland.
“It’s certainly not the problem but it is the solution.
“It is the only solution we have found with the UK after discussing that over years.
It is the only solution to protect peace and stability on the island of Ireland and to protect the integrity of the single market
“It is the only solution to protect peace and stability on the island of Ireland and to protect the integrity of the single market.
“We are convinced that to achieve these objectives the Protocol needs to be implemented. We have shown, as the European Commission, huge flexibility and creativity and pragmatism over the last years and also over the last weeks.
“If I remind you of the grace periods and extensions, for example.
“Indeed, flexibility and pragmatism has been shown on our side.
“I cannot imagine that our British friends will not show the same flexibility and the same pragmatism because we all share the same purpose that we want to have peace and stability on the island of Ireland.
“The protocol is important, the Good Friday Agreement is paramount and therefore I cannot imagine our British friends will not show the same flexibility that we have shown.”
The Northern Ireland Protocol is aimed at avoiding a hard border with Ireland but has created a series of economic barriers on Irish Sea trade.
The move means the region continues to follow Brussels rules while not having a say in them.
This has caused annoyance and frustration among many Unionists.
Mr Martin said that “flexibility” has been by the EU Commission.
“Generosity of spirit has been shown by the commission,” he added.
“Maros Sefcovic, in his discussions with the UK side, has demonstrated and said very clearly that the commission wants to be flexible. So where there’s a will, there’s a way.
“In our view, the mechanisms are there to resolve any outstanding issues, and we believe the mechanism should be used to the full by the UK Government and the indeed the EU.
“We believe the generosity that’s been shown by the EU should be reciprocated.”