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EU chiefs to tackle Johnson on Northern Ireland dispute at G7

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Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) is welcomed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (R) in the Berlaymont building at the EU headquarters in Brussels on December 9, 2020, prior to a post-Brexit talks’ working dinner. – Prime Minister Boris Johnson met EU chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday for a working dinner that could save — or kill off — hopes for a post-Brexit trade deal. (Photo by Aaron Chown / POOL / AFP)

Europe’s bitter dispute with Britain over post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland will haunt Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s G7 summit this weekend.

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European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen confirmed Thursday that she would bring up the row when she and fellow EU chief Charles Michel meet Johnson.

Johnson is already under pressure to resolve the stand-off over Northern Ireland from another major guest at the Cornwall summit, US President Joe Biden.

As part of Britain’s post-Brexit withdrawal agreement Johnson signed up to impose some border controls between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

But, amid worries about unrest among Northern Ireland’s pro-British loyalist community, London has suspended checks, triggering a row with Brussels.

Talks are underway between officials from the two sides, but Von der Leyen and Michel now plan to bring the matter directly to Johnson.

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“Now, we have a treaty on that the withdrawal agreement, it has been signed by both sides … It is important that we now implement the protocol,” von der Leyen said.

“We have shown flexibility, we will show flexibility, but the protocol and the withdrawal agreement has to be implemented, completely.

“We will discuss that in a trilateral meeting in Cornwall, together, we are determined to do everything to keep peace and stability on the island of Ireland.”

Von der Leyen and Michel were talking in Brussels before setting off for Britain to attend the G7 summit.

They will host Biden in Brussels on Tuesday next week as part of the US leader’s first foreign tour as president.

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