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BBC: UK and EU reach agreement on trade data sharing

10-1-2023 |

The EU and UK say there is a "new basis" for talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol after agreement was reached on sharing trade data.

The agreement will allow the EU to access UK IT systems which will give detailed information about goods flowing from GB to Northern Ireland.

Agreement in this area is seen as a key step to reaching a broader deal.

In a joint statement they said technical teams would now "work rapidly" to find solutions.

The statement came after a meeting between EU chief negotiator Maros Šefčovič, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris.

The joint statement said the agreement on trade data was "a critical prerequisite to building trust and providing assurance, and provided a new basis for EU-UK discussions."

After the meeting Mr Cleverly tweeted that he and Mr Šefčovič shared the same focus - "the best outcome for Northern Ireland".

Northern Ireland has not had a fully-functioning government since February 2021, when the Democratic Unionist Party withdrew from the NI Executive as part of its ongoing protest against the protocol.

The protocol is a part of the UK-EU Brexit deal that keeps Northern Ireland aligned with some EU trade rules.

It keeps Northern Ireland in the EU's single market for goods, avoiding the need for a hard border with the Irish Republic after Brexit. However, it also creates a new trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, something the EU accepts is causing difficulties for many businesses.

The UK says the protocol is not working and plans to override most of the agreement if the EU does not agree to changes.

Source: BBC