EU ‘open’ to extension of Brexit grace period but demands UK compromise

Brexit: UK and EU 'must work together' says Thomas Byrne

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Irish Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne insisted that the relationship between the UK, Northern Ireland and Ireland is off to a rocky start. While speaking on BBC’s Newsnight with Emily Maitlis, he argued the EU has attempted to make the Northern Ireland protocol as fair as possible. However, he added the EU would be open to extending the period at which Northern Ireland is tied to the single market to solve the teething problems if Brexit Britain is willing to compromise.

He said that everything in Northern Ireland is about compromise and both the UK and EU need to find a solution that works for all citizens, both in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Mr Byrne said: “There is clearly a rocky takeoff, there is no doubt about that.

“If we remember when the single market was established we had a lot of tape and bureaucracy when companies wanted to export to other European countries.

“So the single market was established to stop that and eliminate it.

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“The very fact that Britain has decided to leave the single market in a referendum and Government decisions that means that red tape is back.

“We certainly don’t wish for that to be the case but it is the case and we through the trade and cooperation agreement tried to improve that and make the best out of the decision.”

BBC Newsnight host Emily Maitlis argued that it was possible for the EU to remove some of the red tape for Britain if it so chooses.

Mr Byrne replied: “Northern Ireland remains a member of the single market so let us remember it has certain advantages now that it is fully part of the single market.

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“Yes, there have been extensions to the implementation of the agreement affecting Northern Ireland for a short period.

“It is certainly possible and we would have no objections to any easement that is practical in relation to that.

“What we want in relation to the protocol and Northern Ireland is for it to work for business and employment and for people on both sides of the Northern Ireland community.

“There is no such thing as winner takes all in Northern Ireland, everything in Northern Ireland is about compromise.”

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The BBC host insisted despite the best efforts, the agreement was not going well for those in Northern Ireland.

She replied:” Is it fair to say that it is not working for you on either side.”

She also reflected on the EU’s quick triggering of Article 16 to which Mr Byrne said that issue had now been rectified.

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