Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Prime Minister Alexander De Croo of Belgium in a virtual meeting to sign a UK-Belgium Joint Declaration on Bilateral Cooperation.
The agreement, the first of its kind between the two countries, will enhance cooperation in crucial areas like trade, green technology, security, health and tackling illegal migration.
The Prime Minister welcomed the work that has already taken place between the UK and Belgium to keep supply chains open as we roll out vaccines to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The leaders discussed the recent emergence of the Omicron variant and the steps their countries have taken to limit its spread.
The Prime Minister also thanked Prime Minister De Croo for Belgium’s support and climate change commitments during the COP26 Summit earlier this month.
On illegal migration, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of breaking the business model of people traffickers by establishing a UK-EU returns agreement and using all the modern technology at our disposal.
The leaders agreed that recent tragic incidents underscore the need to make urgent progress in this area. The Prime Minister reaffirmed the UK’s desire to work together with Belgium and other European partners to achieve this, and the leaders agreed their respective Ministers should meet soon to progress this work.
The Prime Minister emphasised that significant change to the Northern Ireland Protocol was needed to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market. The Prime Minister was clear that a consensual solution remained his preference but that Article 16 was a legitimate safeguard mechanism should a new approach not be agreed.
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