By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) - The European Commission president on Thursday said she is “very confident” a solution will be found on the Northern Ireland Protocol if the UK has the political will.
In a joint press conference with Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin in Dublin, Ursula von der Leyen underlined that the EU and Ireland have been in “very close cooperation” on matters related to Brexit.
“It was ironclad and is ironclad, and this is so important,” she said.
“I know that Brexit meant a lot of adaptation for Ireland, but you have done this very successfully as far as I can see it.”
The president said “the European Union has been listening very carefully to the concerns of people and businesses in Northern Ireland,” and that “we have shown flexibility, we will always have a constructive approach to these issues.”
“If there is the political will in the UK, I am very confident that we can reach a positive conclusion,” von der Leyen added.
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 a 2016 referendum that ended the country’s more than 40-year-long membership in the European club.
The agreement signed by the sides included the Northern Ireland Protocol, which practically avoided a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The protocol has been a point of disagreement between Northern Irish nationalists and unionists.