Ambassador João Vale de Almeida participated in an event organised by Aspen UK on the future of EU-UK relations. One of the main issues discussed was the potential for foreign policy cooperation between the two actors. The Ambassador said: “There are multiple areas of convergence between the EU and the UK such as the reform of the WTO, the stabilisation of the Balkans, a common approach towards Russia and China and tackling climate change. We must now stop with the political point scoring and focus on the potential of this new relationship ”.
The other panelists included Alyn Smith MP, Tom Tugendhat MP and Sophia Gaston, Director of the British Foreign Policy Group. The event was moderated by Professor Anand Menon, Director of the UK in a Changing Europe.
The panelists also discussed the situation in Northern Ireland. The Ambassador said: “We had no alternative but to launch legal action against the UK after it unilaterally extended the grace periods in Northern Ireland. Unilateral measures are not solutions. It took us two years to negotiate the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, and now the UK must fully implement it. Trust cannot start with flexibility on what we agreed. It starts with the implementation of what we agreed”.
Three months after the end of the transition period, the Ambassador assessed the state of EU-UK relations. He added: “It is still too early to understand which pattern of relationship the EU and the UK will have. We currently find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic, and this might have played a role in the large fall in trade from the UK to the EU in January. My priority is to increase bilateral levels of trust with the UK, which are not as strong as we would like”.