The EU and the United Kingdom note a change in tone in the relationship after the Northern Ireland agreement | International
The years of tensions and mutual accusations of non-compliance with what was agreed seem to have been left behind. Brussels and London have confirmed this Monday a change of tone, more constructive, in their bilateral relations since they agreed, just over four months ago, the Windsor Framework Agreement, which allowed the unlocking of the Protocol for Northern Ireland, which had become in the main stumbling block in relations between the United Kingdom and the community club since Brexit.
Even so, in a discussion in the European Parliament with the British Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, the two sides have been cautious, making it clear that there is still "work to be done" and that there are things, such as trade relations, that they will never be like before the first and painful European divorce.
"The Windsor Framework Agreement puts our relationship on a more positive trajectory", has confirmed the vice-president of the European Commission for Inter-institutional Relations, Maros Sefcovic, one of the key players in reaching the agreement to unblock the dispute between the United Kingdom and the EU on the Northern Ireland protocol. The Windsor Agreement is the result, he stressed, of a "genuine political commitment and a constructive, creative and collaborative collaboration" that the European official hopes will continue in the future in relations with London.
Because "we have made a lot of progress, but there is still a lot to do", he stressed during his speech before the inaugural session of the parliamentary assembly of the EU-United Kingdom Association, held in the European Parliament in Brussels. Among the pending tasks, Sefcovic has highlighted the full application of the safeguards for the protection of the single market of the EU.
"We have to recognize that we are not going to agree on everything," Cleverly responded in his turn to speak. But showing the willingness of Rishi Sunak's government to seek a more conciliatory tone with Brussels than the one maintained by his predecessors in office, Boris Johnson and Lizz Truss, the head of British diplomacy recalled that "in mature relations, you can deal with differences while making the most of the areas where we agree.”
Although the agreements to ease relations after Brexit have taken “a little longer than many of us would have liked”, Cleverly has said, the fact is that, today, “there is real progress. And I am committed to maintaining that positive trajectory", the British official said, using words similar to those of Sefcovic, probably aware that just a week ago, a survey revealed that more than half of the British who supported the Brexit now believe that this has been a failure.
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Because there is, Cleverly stressed, a "broad space for cooperation" between the EU and the United Kingdom on issues such as "harmful emissions and other global challenges." Another factor that unites London with its former European partners are shared geopolitical priorities, such as the common position with Ukraine "in the face of Russian aggression" or the search for the "right balance in the relationship with China".
Cleverly has taken advantage of his visit to Brussels to also meet with the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. The British minister has expressed his support for Sweden to be able to enter the Atlantic Alliance once and for all —overcoming the Turkish veto— as soon as possible.
“The UK was proud to welcome Finland into NATO. And we look forward to Sweden's immediate accession. I have said it publicly and I will say it again: I would love to see a flag-raising ceremony on the first day of the Vilnius summit and then Sweden play a full and active role as part of NATO”, he declared.
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