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Ursula von der Leyen, 63, joined Joe Biden, 78, at the White House yesterday as the pair discussed an array of issues, including the Northern Ireland Protocol. The President of the EU Commission, who succeeded Jean-Claude Juncker at the end of 2019, told her 666,000 Twitter followers the 46th President of the United States agrees with the Brussels bloc Brexit Britain should maintain the current terms of its post-membership deal with the European Union.
Writing on Twitter, the ex-German Defence Minister said: “President Biden and I agreed on the need to preserve peace and stability on the island of Island.
“We agree that the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol should be implemented.
“They are an efficient answer to the difficulties created by Brexit.
“Now, Northern Ireland has access to both the EU and UK single markets.
“We can be flexible but we need to stick to them.”
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The White House published a read-out following the talks between the 46th President and his EU counterpart.
It said: “They expressed their continued support for political and economic stability in Northern Ireland.”
The statement also pointed out Mr Biden and Ms Von der Leyen “welcomed” revitalised US-EU ties, COVID-19, Belarus’ border problems on the bloc’s external frontier and Ukraine.
President Biden, who is proud to inform people of his Irish heritage, has long warned the UK against ripping up the Protocol.
At the G7 summit in Cornwall earlier this year, the ex-Delaware Senator was said to have a candid discussion with Boris Johnson, 57, in which he encouraged the Prime Minister to “protect the Good Friday Agreement and the progress made under it”.
Lord Frost, 56, UK Brexit Minister, has been caught up in Northern Irish negotiations with his Czech-born EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic, 55, in recent weeks.
However, after reports suggested the pair had only made “limited” progress during talks, it had been claimed Brexit Britain was ready to trigger Article 16 and ditch customs checks on goods travelling across the Irish Sea to and from Ulster.
Speaking to the House of Lords today, Frost said: “I have met Vice-President Sefcovic every week for the last three weeks in Brussels and London, and we will meet again on Friday as part of this week’s talks.
“The aim has been to assess whether it is possible to close the substantial gap between our positions and secure a consensual, negotiated resolution.
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“So far that has not been possible.
“This is, at least in part, because the Commission’s proposals would not do enough to make the protocol sustainable for the future or even deliver what they have claimed.”
While the ex-CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association claimed Article 16 is “not inevitable”, he went on to say: “If, however, we do in due course reach that point, the Article 16 safeguards will be our only option.”
He added: “We would do it only if it was necessary to support stability in Northern Ireland.”
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