Monday, January 24, 2022 3:58 p.m.

Foreign Minister Liz Truss and European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said in a joint statement this afternoon that the “meeting took place in a constructive atmosphere”.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has said renewed political goodwill with the UK could “lead to a timely agreement on durable solutions” to the post-Brexit protocol for Northern Ireland, after a new round of talks today.

European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said he was not setting “artificial deadlines” for talks, but would act “with a sense of urgency”.

Sefcovic and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also issued a joint statement this afternoon to say that “the meeting took place in a constructive atmosphere” and that “officials would meet again this week.”

Truss and Sefcovic said they would “take a political update” next week and consider their respective positions.

The UK has threatened to trigger Article 16 and suspend the protocol for much of the last year in the face of economic and political friction caused by tight EU border controls on goods from the Great -Britain to Northern Ireland.

London and Brussels have both put forward proposals to reduce controls, but progress has stalled in recent months.

Statements from both sides today seem to indicate that the previously frosty tone of the negotiations has improved since Truss took over as chief negotiator last month.

Truss took over the role of Lord David Frost, having resigned from the cabinet following Boris Johnson’s imposition of new Covid curbs.

“They reaffirmed their shared desire for a positive relationship between the EU and the UK, underpinned by our shared belief in freedom and democracy and cooperation on common global challenges,” reads the joint statement from Truss and Sefcović.

Northern Ireland still follows EU customs union and single market rules, unlike the rest of the UK, to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

Tight EU border controls on goods crossing the Irish Sea last year created major economic and political disruption in Northern Ireland, with empty supermarket shelves and labor riots creating the emergency to correct the way the protocol is implemented.