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EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said that the EU would do its utmost to find "practical solutions" to the Northern Ireland Protocol by the end of the year. Sefcovic told a press conference that EU-U.K. expert-level talks on the issue are now taking place twice a week and said there are regular contacts with the UK's David Frost.

The Commissioner said that he was confident that solutions could be found within the context of the Protocol. Following the AUKUS announcement of last week, Sefcovic conceded that there was a need to "improve overall atmospherics" and "renew the level of trust" in the talks with the U.K.

Sefcovic said, however, that the EU would react if the U.K. triggered action under Article 16, as it has mooted it might in the past, with Brussels looking at all the options available under the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, " he said.