EU extends olive branch to Liz Truss with offer to reduce Irish Sea trade controls
Talks on a revised protocol, which the government says has had a chilling effect on trade, have been deadlocked since February.
So far, the Commission has refused a full renegotiation of border arrangements, insisting instead that talks must focus on its package from last October.
Mr Sefcovic is said to be keen to resume negotiations before next month’s deadline to avoid another election in Stormont.
With the DUP refusing to form a new decentralized administration in NI, an interim government is in place but must be dissolved by October 28 unless a new executive is formed.
The Secretary of State for NI is then obliged to call new elections within three months or by January 19 at the latest.
“I would also prefer to work around the tight deadlines as I am fully aware of the dates which will be arriving by the end of October,” he told the FT.
But the EC has yet to hear from Britain’s next Brexit negotiator, after Liz Truss, who held the post while foreign minister, became prime minister, a source said.
Mr Sefcovic said he was “encouraged” by Ms Truss’ recent remarks about her desire for a negotiated solution.
However, progress is unlikely as long as the government’s NI protocol bill, which will give ministers the power to unilaterally cancel the border deal, is still on the table.
Brussels called the legislation a breach of international law and urged the government to abandon the move.
The Commission responded by blocking Britain’s membership of the bloc’s Horizon research programme, agreed as part of the post-Brexit trade and cooperation deal.
“We need to make sure that the most important agreements are now respected before we start negotiating another one,” Mr Sefcovic said.
He also claimed that the Commission had reached out to the United States in hopes of securing a potential investment in NI.