A meeting of the British-Irish Council took place in Cardiff today.

The heads of delegation were welcomed by First Minister Mark Drakeford. Amongst those in attendance were the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD, Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart, and Michael Gove. 

In a statement, the Council said that it "reflected on recent political developments and took the opportunity to engage on a number of topics of mutual interest, including minority languages, COP26 and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic".

The meeting of politicians from across the islands of the UK and Ireland came amid ongoing negotiations between Westminster and Brussels about post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the summit, Mr Gove said: “I do believe that there is a constructive approach that’s being taken by the Commission and Lord Frost has signalled that while, of course, it’s always possible that Article 16 may require to be invoked, we’re confident that we’ll be able to make progress without it.”

Asked if the UK government could guarantee it would not trigger Article 16, Mr Gove told the summit press conference: “There is a determination on the part of the British government, the European Commission, the Irish government and others to make progress.

“There’s a shared recognition that we do need to alter the operation of the protocol on the ground.

“I hope that we won’t need to trigger Article 16, for reasons that will be well understood, but we reserve the right to do so if we believe that changes which are required on the ground in Northern Ireland have not been made.”

Earlier this week, Brexit Minister Lord Frost was urged by political parties at Stormont to find agreement with the EU over the protocol.

The Covid-19 pandemic and climate change are also expected to be on the agenda during the summit.

First Minister Mark Drakeford, who hosted the meeting, said beforehand that the summit was a “timely opportunity to support dialogue and collective action between our governments.

“This is more essential than ever given the current challenges we all face.

“The council plays a unique and critical role in developing positive relationships between its members,” he said.

The last meeting of the British-Irish Council had taken place in June in Fermanagh.

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