Protesters holding EU and Ireland flags, and a ‘Keep the Protocol’ placard stand outside Parliament.
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Ireland’s finance minister spoke of the new optimism and constructiveness surrounding talks between the U.K. and the EU following months of bitter post-Brexit trade disputes.
The U.K. may have left the EU on Jan, 31, 2020, but the Northern Ireland Protocol has caused persistent disagreement. This part of the Brexit deal mandates checks on some goods that travel to Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K. — with the new negotiations aimed at easing these rules.
Unionist parties in Northern Ireland have argued that the checks place an effective border in the Irish Sea.
“The talks are ongoing and there does appear to be a better mood overall, more positive discussions underway between the EU and the U.K.,” Michael McGrath, minister of finance for the Republic of Ireland, told CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“And I think it is in everyone’s interests that a negotiated agreement would be reached soon so that we can have free-flowing trade across the Irish Sea, between Britain and Ireland (North and South) and we protect the Good Friday Agreement and peace,” he said.
He said there are “welcome signs of progress” following reports that British Foreign Minister James Cleverly and European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic spoke again earlier this week.