The European Commission President insisted the bloc had “bent over backwards for years” to help protect stability in the region. Her remarks come after EU-UK talks over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol ended without a breakthrough. She told reporters: “The European Union is determined to make the Protocol work for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland.
“We’ve bent over backwards for years to find a solution on that. We agreed with the United Kingdom that the Protocol was the only solution ensuring the absence of a hard border on Northern Ireland.
“We’ve been really debating that since years and we’ve found the one and only solution.”
Mrs von der Leyen confirmed she would meet Mr Johnson on the margins of the G7 for trilateral talks with EU Council President Charles Michel.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister warned that the UK’s “economic and territorial integrity” must be protected as the row over Northern Ireland border checks.
He insisted a solution to the deadlock between the EU and Britain is “easily doable” but it must also protect the peace process.
Asked about the row as he arrived in Cornwall for the G7 summit, Mr Johnson said: “What we want is something that enables us to protect trade flows…and that’s easily doable.
“We want a solution that guarantees the peace process and protects the peace process, but also guarantees the economic and territorial integrity of the whole United Kingdom.”
But Brussels fears Downing Street is about to disregard chunks of the Protocol to avoid a hard border.
This could trigger a sausage trade war if No10 refuses to impose an EU blockade on chilled meats being shipped to Northern Ireland.
Mrs von der Leyen said: “It is possible, I’m deeply convinced the UK can work on implanting the Withdrawal Agreement, but if not it is possible to move forward within the agreed frame to have remedial measures and dispute settlement mechanism.”
She added: “We also have to protect the single market.”
EU Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said: “If the UK were to take further unilateral action in the coming weeks the EU will not be shy in acting swiftly, firmly and resolutely to ensure the UK abides by its international obligations.”
He met with Brexit minister Lord Frost in London in a failed attempt to resolve the row.
This could mean legal action, arbitration or retaliatory trade measures such as tariffs, The Brussels chief said.
The EU says without an agreement by July 1, there should be no fresh meat that is shipped from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland.
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Lord Frost insisted there is still time to reach an agreement before the current grace periods for chilled meets ends.
A senior source suggested there was no evidence that shows British sausages as being a risk to the EU’s single market.
The insider said: “The PM has been pretty clear that he can’t see a reason why we shouldn’t be able to sell the British banger in Northern Ireland.
“The biosecurity risk is zero. We don’t see why there should be a problem with that.”
And another British official dismissed the EU’s claims that meat impose, such as sausages or burgers, are a threat to the bloc’s market.
They said: “We have no evidence that sausages from the rest of the UK pose a risk to biosecurity in Northern Ireland or the environment.”