For the good of Northern Ireland, it is crucial talks between the UK and EU reach a comprehensive outcome early in the new year, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said.
Mrs Long was speaking after meeting EU Vice-President Maros Sefcovic alongside an Alliance delegation, including Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MP and Brexit spokesperson Sorcha Eastwood.
She said the meeting was constructive, with indications of significant progress in relation to the flow of medicines. However, the East Belfast MLA added she was concerned the same pace had not occurred in relation to other issues.
“Alliance is committed to finding pragmatic solutions to the issues around the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol in order to provide political stability and business certainty.
“We are encouraged the negotiations are now occurring in a more constructive context, with the threat of an imminent triggering of Article 16 diminished and substantial progress on medicines. However, we are disappointed the UK Government is still not seriously engaging on a number of core aspects. For the good of Northern Ireland, and the wider UK-EU relationship, it is important that these talks reach a comprehensive outcome early in the New Year.”
“Significant progress has been made on the issue of the flow of medicines,” added Sorcha Eastwood.
“Especially given medicines are a heavily regulated area and the expiry of the grace period at the end of this month, there is a particular urgency in reaching an outcome. Alliance believes this issue must now be resolved ahead of other aspects of the current negotiations.”
“It is important Northern Ireland’s political institutions and elected representatives have some form of input into the development of new laws and regulations that would apply under the Protocol,” said Dr Farry.
“The Protocol gives Northern Ireland unique dual access to the Great Britain and EU markets, but it is important we address the democratic deficit. With Northern Ireland outside of the EU, there is no perfect solution on governance. However, Alliance is not satisfied with what has been proposed to date, and will be making further representations and proposals.”