(Bloomberg) -- There’s been a “significant” improvement in relations between the European Union and UK, and a landing zone in their Brexit negotiations is possible in the next few weeks, Ireland’s foreign minister said, even though there has been “no major breakthroughs” over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“We are in a better space than we’ve been in for quite some time,” Simon Coveney told Irish broadcaster RTE on Friday. “The conversations are a lot warmer. I think trust is growing.”
Technical discussions are taking place over issues related to the protocol -- the part of the Brexit deal which keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market in order to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland -- such as sanitary and customs checks, goods going into the single market, VAT rates in Northern Ireland and the role of the European Court of Justice, he said.
A positive discussion between the European Commission’s Maros Sefcovic and UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Thursday “would suggest we’re in a good space now in terms of language,” Coveney said.
His comments chime with those made by the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Dublin this week. Talks are marked by a new, more pragmatic spirit and a workable solution “is within reach,” she told the country’s parliament on Thursday.
EU’s Von Der Leyen Says Workable Brexit Solution Is Within Reach
“It really is up to the UK government now to decide -- do they want to work with the EU as a partner to resolve these issues. If they do, I think there will be generosity coming from the EU side,” Coveney said.
“I believe there is a there is a landing zone possible here. I believe it’s possible to do it in the next few weeks, not in the next few months. And I think we need to use the window between now and Christmas and now and the end of the year to try and make a breakthrough.”
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