The EU and UK are “not that far apart” on post-Brexit legislation, the outgoing EU ambassador to the UK has claimed.
João Vale de Almeida claimed that the “mood music” between the UK and the EU has changed, meaning they are more likely to reach an agreement over the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol.
He said he felt “encouraged” by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s early meetings with EU leaders, saying that an agreement would transform relations.
This, Mr Vale de Almeida claimed, would clear the way for Britain to join the €95bn Horizon Europe research project.
But he said the EU and the UK need to have more contact if they are to improve relations.
“The mood music has changed, the melody is nicer but we still don’t have the words of a new British song.”
“We need now to focus on the landing zone.”
The UK has been locked in talks with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol – which was agreed upon as part of the withdrawal agreement to avoid a hard border in Ireland post-Brexit – since October 2021.
It allows Northern Ireland to remain within the EU’s single market for goods but it has faced criticism because a border was effectively created between Great Britain and Northern Ireland down the Irish Sea.
The border has led to delays, supermarket shortages and increased costs for businesses in Northern Ireland.
The Government plans to remove key parts of the protocol, such as the need for checks on goods entering Northern Ireland, through the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.
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Source: EU and UK ‘not that far apart’ on hated Brexit deal as ambassador hints at progress