(Bloomberg) -- Talks between the UK and European Union over the Northern Ireland Protocol are marked by a new, more pragmatic spirit and a workable solution “is within reach,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

While the consequences of Brexit and the type of Brexit chosen by the UK cannot be entirely avoided, “by applying common sense and focusing on issues that really matter I believe we can make progress in resolving the practical issues surrounding the protocol,” von der Leyen told Ireland’s Parliament in an address on Thursday, adding “My contacts with Prime Minister Sunak are encouraging and I trust we can find the way.”

The commission president is not the only official pointing out a change of tone in EU-UK relations. “I want to make the most of this clear window of opportunity,” Maros Sefcovic, European Commission vice president in charge on the bloc’s relationship to the UK, tweeted after talks with UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, adding the officials would “speak soon.”  

However the commission told member states last month that the UK hasn’t made progress since Rishi Sunak became prime minister. The part of the Brexit agreement that keeps Northern Ireland in the EU customs block to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland has remained a key sticking point.

EU Warns That UK Hasn’t Made Progress in Solving Brexit Problems 

“Ireland can always count on the EU to stand by the Good Friday Agreement,” von der Leyen said in Dublin, referring to the 1998 peace treaty which largely ended decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. “There can be no hard border on the island of Ireland.”

Further Reading: 

The UK Needs a New Deal With the European Union: Editorial

The Brexit Debate Is Back in Britain: New Economy Daily

UK’s Sunak ‘Confident’ of Fixing Post-Brexit Deal in N. Ireland

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