EU chief Ursula von der Leyen 'deeply regrets' triggering article 16 and threatening hard border in Ireland
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EU chief Ursula von der Leyen 'deeply regrets' triggering article 16 and threatening hard border in Ireland

EUROPEAN COMMISSION President Ursula von der Leyen says she "deeply regrets" her decision to invoke article 16 of the Norther Ireland Protocol last month.

The controversial decision was made during a row between the EU and the UK over Covid-19 vaccine supplies.

President von der Leyen was trying to restrict the flow of vaccines to Britain over the Irish border, and made the controversial decision to invoke article 16 in an apparent attempt to spite the UK following problems with AstraZeneca's vaccine production, which affected the EU's overall supply.

Her decision was immediately criticised by Irish, British and other European politicians, who believed the move would seriously undermine the Good Friday Agreement.

Just hours later, she reversed her decision.

Speaking before the European Parliament on Wednesday, Ms von der Leyen said: "The bottom line is that mistakes were made in the process leading up to the decision and I deeply regret that".

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However, the German politician continued: "But in the end we got it right."

She continued: "I can reassure you that my Commission will do its utmost to protect the peace of Northern Ireland, just as it has done throughout the entire Brexit process."

Article 16 overrides part of the Northern Ireland Protocol which prevents a hard border being established on the island of Ireland, and was intended as an emergency measure only to be used in 'serious' circumstances.

It's understood that Taoiseach Micheál Martin contacted US President Joe Biden, immediately after the news of von der Leyen's decision broke, asking him to step in and get the decision reversed if need be.

Thankfully, it never came to that.