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Preserve post-Brexit trading rules between Great Britain and NI

PRESERVING post-Brexit trading rules for goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland is “the only way” to avoid a hard border, warns the EU.

European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic has written to the UK’s Michael Gove, saying “teething problems” needed to be resolved.

It comes after Gove called for an urgent “reset” of the arrangements that came into force on 1 January.

Sefcovic and Gove will discuss the issues in London on Thursday.

The so-called Northern Ireland Protocol was designed to ensure an open border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after Brexit.

Northern Ireland remained in the single market for goods, but the rest of the UK did not - meaning some checks for goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland were introduced.

Tensions have been high in recent weeks at ports in Northern Ireland, with disruption to some food supplies and online deliveries due to the new checks required.

Unionists want the protocol to be scrapped because they say it damages trade and threatens Northern Ireland’s place in the UK union.

But the EU has stood by this part of the post-Brexit trade agreement, finalized in December, and coming into force on New Year’s Day.

Gove told MPs last week that, while the UK did not want to “ditch” it, it “reserved the right” to do what it must to protect Northern Ireland.