THE DUP have told EU negotiators that the proposed changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol “fall short of what is needed”.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said that he told European Commission (EC) vice president Maros Sefcovic that there needs to be a “sustainable solution”.

Meanwhile, the Irish Premier said the European Union has proved how “open and willing” it is to find a resolution to the post-Brexit trade issues in Northern Ireland.

It comes as the EU ambassador to the UK said that the bloc has gone “to the limits” making concessions to the UK Government.

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The European Commission has laid out measures to slash 80% of regulatory checks and dramatically cut customs processes on the movement of goods.

Donaldson spoke with EU negotiator Sefcovic during a virtual meeting on Thursday.

Afterwards, Donaldson said: “We had a useful and honest discussion. I welcomed the change of heart in Brussels with the decision to renegotiate.

“For so long we were told the protocol could not be reopened but the persistent pressing of our case has paid dividends.

“I also explained why the proposals fall short of what is needed.”

Unionists in Northern Ireland, including the DUP, have been pressing for change, fearing their place within the United Kingdom is being undermined.

The National:

Donaldson (pictured) added: “Short-term fixes will not solve the problems that have beset the United Kingdom internal market.

“Removing some checks today does not solve the divergence problems of tomorrow. State aid and VAT arrangements if left unaltered will be detrimental to Northern Ireland’s long-term prospects.

“We need a sustainable solution which removes the Irish Sea border and restores our place within the United Kingdom.”

Meanwhile, Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin paid tribute to Sefcovic for how he and the EC have handled post-Brexit issues.

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He said: “It’s been a sincere, hard-working and very sensitive and committed approach.

“Maros Sefcovic has really consulted with people all around. His engagement with the Irish Government to get a sense of things, he went north and spoke to people on the ground in Northern Ireland and business and industry, and politically met with all the parties.”

Martin said the EU has made “very significant” advances to resolve the issues flowing from the Withdrawal Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol, adding that he and the EC are in “solution mode”.

He said: “The British Government has pleaded that they didn’t fully understand the implications of the protocol or with the Withdrawal Agreement.

The National:

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the EU were in "solution mode" over the Protocol

“I think the European Commission has now demonstrated that they are really open and willing to bring a resolution to this.”

He said Northern Ireland has been handed a good opportunity with retaining access to the single market and the market in Great Britain and that it is “very advantageous” for different sectors of the economy.

He said: “I think there’s a real responsibility on all parties, including the United Kingdom Government, to engage responsibly and seriously with this package.”

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Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney tweeted: “We listened to people of NI, we are changing our rules. It’s up to UK Government and protocol can be success for all.”

Under the terms of the protocol, which was agreed by the UK and EU as part of the 2020 Withdrawal Agreement, the European Court of Justice would be the final arbitrator in any future trade dispute between the two parties on the operation of the protocol.

The UK now wants to remove that provision and replace it with an independent arbitration process.

We told earlier how Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the demands were “very hard to accept”.