Dutch PM attempts to smooth Northern Ireland row on visit to London

Mark Rutte said he thought Boris Johnson showed 'willingness' to resolve the post-Brexit dispute.

Dutch PM attempts to smooth Northern Ireland row on visit to London

LONDON — Boris Johnson has shown “willingness” to find a solution to the U.K.-EU row over trade arrangements in Northern Ireland, the Dutch prime minister said after a meeting in Downing Street.

Speaking to journalists outside No. 10 Friday, Mark Rutte said if both sides can focus on “practical questions” and avoid “heavy language” it is possible to reach solutions to the problems related to the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol, which London says causes disruption to trade from Great Britain.

“I notice also with Johnson he realizes this,” Rutte said. “And I notice tonight this willingness.”

The two leaders “discussed extensively” differences on the protocol over dinner, Rutte said. The Dutch leader added he had told Johnson that the EU is committed to finding solutions, while also pointing out that the protocol must be implemented and that “European unity is not up for discussion.”

Rutte’s message echoes European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, who last week urged both sides to “dial down” rhetoric during a visit to Northern Ireland. Šefčovič is preparing to present a fresh package of proposals next month in an attempt to address some of the issues flagged by the U.K. government.

A Downing Street spokesperson said Johnson “outlined the U.K.’s concerns with the current implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol and the strain it was placing on the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

“The leaders agreed on the importance of urgently finding a way forward on the issue.”

During the meeting, the two premiers also discussed bilateral trade and defense cooperation, including as part of the Joint Expeditionary Force and the U.K.-led Carrier Strike Group.

Johnson outlined details of the new AUKUS defense alliance between Britain, Australia and the U.S., and “stressed that the alliance will be an important force for stability in the Indo-Pacific,” the Downing Street spokesperson said.

Rutte and Johnson agreed on the need to make “concrete progress” on tackling climate change ahead of the COP 26 summit in Glasgow in November, they added, amid concerns many countries are yet to make financial commitments.

Source : Politico EU More   

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France recalls ambassadors to US, Australia over submarine spat

Decision 'is justified by the exceptional gravity' of the situation, says foreign minister.

France recalls ambassadors to US, Australia over submarine spat

PARIS — France has recalled its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia in response to the strategic partnership with the U.K. that displaced a multibillion-euro submarine contract Paris had signed with Canberra.

“At the request of the President of the Republic, I have decided to immediately recall for consultations our ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement. 

“This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on September 15 by Australia and the United States,” the statement continued.

The U.S., Australia and U.K. announced on Wednesday a landmark pact that would allow cooperation on military technology but that also saw Australia ditch a deal worth more than €50 billion with France’s Naval Group to build a fleet of submarines, a move Le Drian called a “stab in the back.”

Even though it was Australia that canceled the contract, the bulk of French ire was squarely directed at the U.S.

“The American choice to push aside a European ally and partner like France … shows a lack of coherence that France can only note and regret,” according to a joint statement from Defense Minister Florence Parly and Le Drian that was France’s first official response to the announcement.

The French embassy in Washington also canceled in protest a reception it was hosting on Friday to mark the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Chesapeake, which commemorates a French naval victory over a British fleet during the American Revolution.

Le Drian will be in New York Monday to participate in the United Nations General Assembly. 

Source : Politico EU More   

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