Brussels has signalled a deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol with the UK Government could be reached “within weeks”.
It comes as Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen agreed to “work together” to end the row over the Brexit Protocol, when they met for the first time at Cop27 in Egypt.
Maros Sefcovic, the EU negotiator, said: “This is the area where we do not seek any political victory. We just want to solve the problem.”
In London, Europe Minister Leo Docherty spoke for the Government at a meeting of the UK-EU parliamentary partnership assembly and told a roomful of European and British politicians that it remained the UK’s “preference to resolve this through talks”.
There, he hit out at the EU’s decision to deny British access to research programmes such as Horizon, accusing the bloc of failing to fulfil its part of the agreement.
On the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol and is currently in the House of Lords, Mr Docherty said: “We are not expediting the progress of that Bill. Because we must acknowledge that Brexit did fundamentally alter trade on the island of Ireland.”
Downing Street on Monday said it was not pursuing any specific timeline on talks over the Northern Ireland Protocol, in response to Mr Sefcovic’s comments.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We’re not working to a set timeline on those sorts of discussions.
“Obviously we do want to come up with a negotiated solution, we do think the issue is urgent and needs resolving, and obviously we would welcome any progress made.”
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