UK-EU Brexit talks on Northern Ireland ended after just over three hours with “no breakthroughs”. 

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic and Brexit Minister Lord Frost met in London this morning but did not reach a consensus on how to implement the agreement in NI.

Frost said that there was a “frank discussion” during the three-and-a-half hour talks, but that there had been no movement over the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

However, according to Frost both sides had agreed to carry on talking in a bid for a breakthrough.

READ MORE: EU warns Boris Johnson over Northern Ireland border checks

Sefcovic warned that the EU’s patience was wearing “very, very thin” and that they are now at a “crossroads” in their relationship with the UK. 

We told previously how Sefcovic warned that Brussels would act “firmly and resolutely” if the UK unilaterally decided to delay checks intended to ensure there was no return to a hard border with the Republic.

Speaking after the talks, Brexit Minister Frost said: “The problem we’ve got is the protocol is being implemented in a way which is causing disruption in Northern Ireland and we had some pretty frank and honest discussions about that situation today,” he said.

The National:

“There weren’t any breakthroughs. There aren’t any breakdowns either and we’re going to carry on talking.

“What we really now need to do is very urgently find some solutions which support the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, support the peace process in Northern Ireland and allow things to return to normal.”

Speaking during a press conference after the talks, Sefcovic said: “For this, the protocol needs to be implemented. The UK agreed to the protocol as being the best solution.

“After four years of intensive negotiations to address the unique situation on the island of Ireland, and the challenges created by Brexit and the UK’s choice to leave the EU single market and customs union.

“The EU and the UK agreed that the protocol was the only way to protect the Good Friday Belfast Agreement in all its parts.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Northern Ireland protocol offers 'some template' for indy Scotland

The EU Commission VP said that the EU will continue talks with the UK but warned they are willing to take action if necessary. 

He said: “Of course as you would understand, the fact that I mentioned that we are at a crossroads, means that our patience really is wearing very, very thin, and therefore we have to assess all options we have at our disposal.

“I was talking about the legal action, I was talking about arbitration, and of course I’m talking about the cross-retaliation.

“We do not want this to happen, therefore I came here, therefore we had very intense debate this morning, and also yesterday evening with Lord Frost, because I believe that there are possible solutions.”

The National:

The NI Protocol was part of the Brexit deal and to prevent goods checks along the Irish land border, a trade border was created in the Irish Sea instead.

This meant Northern Ireland would be kept in the EU single market for goods, with EU custom rules enforced at its ports. 

The 2019 deal agreed that the checks would be brought in on a phased basis through “grace periods”.

But when earlier this year the UK unilaterally extended and enhanced some of the grace periods, the EU started legal action in response. 

READ MORE: UK ministers ‘have shocking lack of knowledge about Northern Ireland Protocol’

The next phase of control, affecting chilled meat products like sausages and mince, are due to begin next month after the grace period in place ends. 

The July 1 deadline means that products will be stopped from moving between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland, or the grace period will be extended by both sides agreeing or the UK making a unilateral decision. 

It comes as MPs were told Loyalists in Northern Ireland view the Irish Sea trade border as a manifestation of attacks on their British identity, and the only way to resolve the issue around the protocol was through political means.

Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) Billy Hutchison told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that the European Single Market represented the biggest threat to his British identity.

The PUP has a long-established link with the loyalist paramilitary organisation the Ulster Volunteer Force.

The National:

Hutchison, a Belfast City Councillor, told the Committee: “People are angry, people misunderstood how Brexit was going to play out and people didn’t realise that Brexit would have a bigger impact in Northern Ireland than it would have in the rest of the UK.

“So the protocol is a manifestation of people attacking their Britishness or taking something away.”

Many Loyalists are angered by the protocol and that discontent was cited as a contributory factor in scenes of rioting that erupted in some parts of Northern Ireland in April. 

There are now concerns that disorder could spark again during the summer’s loyal order parading season.