The European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets, has said the EU wants to see the Northern Ireland Protocol implemented in full.

Mairead McGuinness also said that she thinks Brexit issues can be resolved if it is accepted that things are not the same as when the UK was a full member of the EU, nor can they be.

"We want the protocol implemented in full and we are and have been willing to find solutions to practical problems that exist," Ms McGuinness told a British Irish Chamber of Commerce virtual event.

"But we don't like unilateral action and that is putting it mildly."

"Once the UK took unilateral action it just begs the question as to how we are going to build a relationship and trust needs to be restored."

Ms McGuinness expressed the view that there has been some positive movement last week with the UK request to the EU for the extension of the grace period under which processed meats can be sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

"From my side I welcome this because I think it is an opportunity for a little bit of calm and maybe common sense to prevail where we know there are problems to be resolved," she said.

The Commissioner said, however, that issues cannot be resolved unless parties talk to each other and if they do then "we can rebuild trust".

Ms McGuinness added that she sees huge business opportunities for firms rather than a political issue.

"And sometimes when you can de-politicise, which I know is not easy in the context of Northern Ireland….I think if you can move away from some of the fixed and entrenched positions, we would see a way of making sure that the benefits of the protocol flow to Northern Ireland and then we can get on with other issues of concern, implementing the trade agreement, looking at a whole range of services," she added.

Reflecting on the Brexit decision, Ms McGuinness said it was "truly remarkable" but also of great concern that during the referendum campaign the issues currently to the fore around Northern Ireland were not discussed.

"Once the United Kingdom decided and voted to leave the European Union and then we had to find mechanisms to work with the situation, the unique situation of Northern Ireland, and find this protocol as a solution, it then if you like brought to the fore some issues around identity for some in Northern Ireland," she claimed.

Ms McGuinness added that when the protocol was signed it was then "put on a shelf in the UK by the government" and there wasn't an effort made to communicate what the UK had signed up to.

She said that because of that absence of clarity and guidance there ended up being a problem when Brexit happened officially on 1 January.