Watch live: EU Commission unveils Northern Ireland proposals to resolve Brexit row

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The European Commission is to unveil officially its eagerly-awaited proposals designed to ease the impact of post-Brexit trade arrangements in Northern Ireland.

The olive branch from the EU is expected to include a large reduction in the number of checks on goods flowing from the British mainland to the UK province, a condition of the Brexit divorce terms.

Businesses have welcomed reports of the EU concessions — to be outlined by Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič — but they are unlikely to extend to eliminating the role of the European court in Northern Ireland’s affairs, as demanded by the British government.

You can watch Šefčovič’s speech on this page from 1830 CEST.

On Tuesday the UK Brexit Minister David Frost said the Northern Ireland Protocol — the international treaty setting out the new arrangements — was not working and urged the EU to replace it, offering the Commission a “new legal text”.

The disruption the protocol has brought to internal UK trade has infuriated British unionists, who oppose Northern Ireland being treated differently from the rest of the UK.

The so-called “Irish Sea” border was negotiated as part of the Northern Ireland Protocol, part of the binding EU withdrawal treaty. It keeps the North inside the EU’s customs territory and single market for goods, in order to keep an open land border with the Irish Republic to the south.

There are fears in EU circles that if differences cannot be resolved, Boris Johnson’s government may go ahead with its threat to suspend the protocol altogether under its Article 16 provision. This would further damage relations and it’s thought could even provoke a trade war.

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Watch the news conference with Maroš Šefčovič in the video player above, and refresh the page for text updates.


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