As part of the divorce deal, the two sides agreed to keep Northern Ireland inside the EU’s tariff-free single market for goods to maintain an open border on the island of Ireland — a key pillar of Northern Ireland’s peace process.
That created a new customs border in the Irish Sea for goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K. even though they are part of the same country. The arrangement has brought red tape and supply problems for some businesses, and it has angered Northern Ireland’s British Unionists, who say the checks undermine Northern Ireland’s place in the U.K. and destabilize the delicate political balance on which peace rests.
Truss was appointed Britain’s lead EU negotiator last month after Brexit Minister David Frost quit, citing disillusionment with the Conservative government’s policies on issues including taxation and COVID-19.
Brexit negotiations made limited progress under Frost, perceived by many EU officials as an intransigent hard-liner. Truss has struck a warmer tone and was welcoming Sefcovic with an all-British dinner of Scottish smoked salmon, Welsh lamb and Kent apple pie.
But Truss has so far stuck to Britain’s insistence that the EU remove its top court from its role in resolving any disputes over the Brexit agreement — an idea the bloc flatly rejects.
The U.K. is seeking major changes to the arrangements and has threatened to use an emergency break clause to suspend parts of the legally binding Brexit divorce agreement if no solution is found. That would trigger EU retaliation and could spiral into a trade war between the U.K. and the 27-nation bloc.
The EU accuses Britain of failing to respond positively to its “far-reaching proposals” to ease the burden on Northern Ireland businesses.
Follow all AP stories on post-Brexit developments at https://apnews.com/hub/Brexit.