Sunak’s Warm Relationship With EU Over New Deal Will Boost UK’s Global Position – NI Protocol Negotiator | policy news

A former senior civil servant who helped negotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol says the new deal – and Rishi Sunak’s warm relationship with his EU counterpart – will boost the UK’s standing in the world.

Rory O’Donnell, now a partner at public relations firm Penta, told Sky News that the positive EU/UK relationship exhibited by the Windsor Structure is “good for the UK’s position in the world”.

O Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, revealed the new Brexit deal in Northern Ireland on Monday at a press conference where they praised each other.

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EU-UK relations have hit rock bottom under Boris Johnson’s leadership, with the former prime minister introducing the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill to replace aspects of the deal he struck with the EU in 2020 that caused trade problems for northern Ireland.

O’Donnell, who was director of the Withdrawal Agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol at the UK mission to the EU until last October, credited the relationship between Sunak and von der Leyen with pushing the new agreement over the edge.

He told Sky News: “One of the most impressive things from my perspective as far as the content of the structure was the warm body language and rapport between the Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission at that press conference.

“When politicians establish a good relationship, it is possible for authorities to make progress on quite complicated technical issues.

“He seems to have gotten along really well with the chairman of the commission and I think that really helped with the progress.”

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Rory O’Connell was part of the team that negotiated the protocol

Sunak has a better relationship with the EU than Johnson

O’Donnell added that he did not think Johnson had “as good a relationship with his European colleagues as the current Prime Minister … which made it difficult to resolve technical issues”.

Sunak said on Tuesday that the new deal, which still needs official approval from lawmakers, puts Northern Ireland in an “incredibly special position” as it provides access to the UK and EU markets.

His comments raised eyebrows as Brexit, which Sunak supported, always meant the UK would be out of the EU’s single market.

But O’Donnell said the focus should be on what is good for the island of Ireland and how that will benefit the UK on the world stage.

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‘An incredibly positive step forward’

Good for the UK’s global position

“It’s less that the rest of the UK is at a disadvantage, although it is, it’s more that we have to find solutions to deal with the problems on the island of Ireland and that’s how we did that,” he said. .

“The side effect of this is that Northern Ireland is uniquely positioned to attract growth in the coming year.

“Northern Ireland is uniquely positioned to benefit from the single market in the EU and the rest of the UK.

“I think it should be an attractive proposition for companies looking to invest in the UK or Europe.”

But he said for the UK there were “real opportunities, broader policy”.

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What is the Windsor Framework?

The focus can now be on other world issues

O’Donnell added that now the focus is off trade issues with Northern Ireland, the UK and the EU can use their good relationship to focus on other issues such as migration, China and the cost of living crisis.

“Better political relations between the UK and the EU mean we can cooperate more closely on these issues,” he said.

O’Donnell was part of the team that helped put together the original IN protocol, but he says he has nothing but praise for the negotiators on both sides who agreed to the new agreement.

“Some people would say that there was over-implementation and that the bureaucratic way in which the EU implemented the protocol was stricter than necessary – and that has had consequences,” he said.

“I think it’s fair to say that both sides at the time had not fully anticipated what the full impact would be and it was only through operating the full protocol that the issues became clear.

“This was not the intention of either side during the negotiations.

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“My motivation all along was trying to get a deal done for Northern Ireland, I think anything that makes life easier in NI is a good thing.

“I think we did as good a job as possible on the protocol at the time, but the Windsor Framework is an improvement on that and should benefit both Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.”

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