Brussels: European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss have reiterated that it has “always been a top priority for both sides” to “guarantee the rights of EU (European Union) citizens resident in the UK and of UK citizens resident in the EU”.
In a joint statement issued after their meeting here on Monday, they said that the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, which enables Northern Ireland to remain in the EU’s single market thereby avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland, is the only way to protect the Good Friday Agreement and to preserve peace on the island of Ireland, reports Xinhua news agency.
The statement underlined the “ongoing determination of both parties to ensure that the outstanding issues in the context of the protocol are addressed, and durable solutions found for the benefit of citizens, businesses and stability in Northern Ireland”.
However, Sefcovic and Truss both acknowledged that the implementation of the protocol requires “further attention”.
Sefcovic told a press briefing following their meeting in Brussels that the EU would like clarity on whether the rights of the bloc’s citizens are regulated by the (EU-UK) Withdrawal Agreement or by the UK’s immigration law.
Sefcovic said he and Truss shared the determination to make things work.
Talks between the two sides have “intensified” in the past few months, with more than a hundred meetings already held.
Last December, Truss replaced David Frost as the UK’s lead negotiator with the EU in post-Brexit talks.
“I very much appreciate her personal involvement and investment into this discussion,” Sefcovic said.
“My relationship with Liz Truss is excellent, and I believe thanks to that we’ll be able to work on the outstanding issues.”