July 26. 2021. 10:57

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G7 Summit: UK must implement Brexit deal, Von der Leyen tells Johnson

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen: ‘The Good Friday Agreement and peace on the island of Ireland are paramount. Both sides must implement what we agreed on.’ Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Pool/AFP via Getty

The European Union has told British prime minister Boris Johnson that he must implement the Brexit deal that he signed to ensure peace in Northern Ireland, and that the 27-member bloc was completely unified on that position.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Saturday that Mr Johnson must keep his word on the Brexit deal, adding: “The Good Friday Agreement and peace on the island of Ireland are paramount. Both sides must implement what we agreed on.”

However, Mr Johnson urged his European counterparts to show compromise over Northern Ireland trade so a solution can be found quickly, according to his spokesman.

The spokesman said Mr Johnson had expressed his desire for progress and told Ms von der Leyen that he was committed to finding practical Brexit solutions within the framework of the protocol.

Mr Johnson also underscored to German chancellor Angela Merkel the “need to maintain both the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the UK,” the spokesman said.

The Good Friday Agreement & peace on the island of Ireland are paramount.

We negotiated a Protocol that preserves this, signed & ratified by ????????????????

We want the best possible relations with the UK.

Both sides must implement what we agreed on.

There is complete EU unity on this. pic.twitter.com/SjMVsEaWYA

— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) June 12, 2021

The United States has expressed grave concern that a dispute between London and Brussels over the implementation of the 2020 Brexit divorce treaty could undermine the Belfast Agreement that ended three decades of violence in the North in 1998.

Since the UK exited the EU on January 1st, Mr Johnson has unilaterally delayed the implementation of some provisions of the Northern Ireland protocol and his top negotiator has said it is unsustainable.

Though Brexit was not part of the formal agenda for the Group of Seven summit, it was raised in meetings between Mr Johnson and EU leaders.

French president Emmanuel Macron offered to reset relations with Britain as long as Mr Johnson stands by the Brexit deal.

Brexit has strained the situation in Northern Ireland. The protocol aims to prevent a hard border between the North and the Republic, therefore keeping Northern Ireland part of the EU’s single market.

However, London says the protocol is unsustainable in its current form because of the disruption it has caused to supplies of everyday goods from the UK to Northern Ireland.

The unionist community in Northern Ireland say they are now split off from the rest of the UK and that the Brexit deal that Mr Johnson signed therefore breaches the Belfast Agreement. But the open border between the North and the Republic was a key principle of the 1998 Good Friday deal.

US president Joe Biden has made clear that any steps that imperilled the agreement would not be welcomed by Washington.– Reuters