By Aysu Bicer
LONDON (AA) - UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will meet Monday in Berkshire against the backdrop of intense talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The leaders said in a joint statement that they will "continue their work towards shared and practical solutions for range of complex challenges around the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland."
"President von der Leyen will therefore meet with the prime minister in the UK tomorrow," it said.
Sunak on Wednesday said that the government is still in intensive discussions with the EU to resolve the longstanding Northern Ireland Protocol issue, saying: "I am a Conservative, a Brexiter, and a unionist. Any deal must tick all three boxes."
Any deal, he said during Prime Minister's Questions in parliament, “needs to ensure sovereignty for Northern Ireland and is to safeguard its place in our union, and it needs to find practical solutions to the problems faced by people and businesses. I will be resolute in fighting for what is best for Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.”
- Northern Ireland Protocol
The Northern Ireland Protocol necessitates border checks on any animal and plant-based products, including frozen meat and processed meat products, before their transport to Northern Ireland, which is aligned with EU rules and regulations.
The protocol creates a de facto trade border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
The UK left the bloc on Jan. 31, 2020, as a result of the 2016 Brexit referendum that ended the country’s more than 40-year membership in the European club.
The agreement signed by the sides included the protocol, which practically avoided a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The protocol has been a point of disagreement between the sides.