Press remarks by Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič following his meeting with David Frost

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Good afternoon and a warm welcome to Europe House to all of you.

I just held my fourth meeting with David Frost on the EU package of ambitious solutions that the EU proposed to facilitate the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland on the ground.

My message has been clear and consistent – the European Union is committed to finding practical solutions for the people and stakeholders in Northern Ireland; our package is a direct response to concerns they raised and makes a tangible difference.

Right now, we need the UK government to reciprocate the big move the EU has made. So that we give stability and predictability to Northern Ireland – a key ingredient for the local economy to flourish. So that the enhanced opportunities that the Protocol and the EU’s package provide are realised.

I acknowledge and welcome the change in tone of discussion with David Frost today – and I hope this will lead to tangible results for the people in Northern Ireland.

With this aim, I also continue to engage with businesses and civil society in Northern Ireland.

I held two roundtables just yesterday and am grateful for their constructive and valuable contributions. Talking to them always strengthens my belief that we can – and must – arrive at the agreed solution that Northern Ireland truly deserves.

That is also why I raised forcefully that we need to make serious headway in the course of next week.

This is particularly important as regards the issue of medicines.

An uninterrupted long-term supply of medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is the Protocol-related issue on everyone’s mind in Northern Ireland. But it is also on my mind – and I stand by my commitment to do whatever it takes to address this issue in line with what industry tells us.

I prefer to have a joint solution with the UK government. But if we are to amend our own EU legislation – something we are committed to do – we need to find this solution quickly. We will therefore intensify our talks next week.

I am convinced that the issue of medicines could be a blueprint for how to approach and solve together the remaining outstanding issues.

So next week, we will also discuss other issues, including significant reduction of customs-related red tape, with a view to making serious progress.

I do hope that practical solutions will prevail over any temptation at political calculation. The EU, for its part, is working around the clock to deliver such solutions – and stability and predictability to Northern Ireland. 

David Frost and I will meet again in Brussels next Friday.

Thank you!

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