Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said he is speaking to the European Commission and DUP leaders about how the Northern Ireland Protocol could be made more acceptable to unionists, RTE News has reported.
Coveney said he was looking forward to getting an opportunity to discuss the working of the protocol with the new DUP leader Edwin Poots.
“I’m looking forward to actually meeting Edwin as soon as we can to discuss a whole range of issues, but one of them of course will be the protocol,” said Coveney.
“I know that the protocol for many Unionists is a real problem politically, and they’re very concerned about the practical consequences of the implementation of the protocol as well,” he added.
“Many unionists might not realise it, but I’m spending a lot of time speaking to the European Commission about how the protocol can be implemented in a way that is more acceptable to the Unionist community, in particular, more flexibility, more pragmatism, where possible,” he added.
Coveney also told RTÉ News that European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, who co-chairs the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee on post-Brexit EU-UK relations, is open to hearing unionist concerns.
“In Maros Sefcovic, who’s the EU negotiator here in the Commission, we do have someone who’s genuinely listening,” he said.
“He has to understand that we have a perspective as well as do many other people in Northern Ireland because I don’t think there are any easy alternatives to the Protocol. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t work with Edwin Poots and other leaders in Northern Ireland to try and find flexible and pragmatic ways of making this Protocol work a lot better than it currently does,” he added. (Paula Kenny | EURACTIV.com)