Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said that if the UK delivers a clear roadmap setting out how it will implement the Northern Ireland Protocol, then the atmosphere would change and the EU would be in a position to "look at" flexibilities and extensions to grace periods.

He was speaking in Brussels after meeting the European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, who is the co-chair of the EU-UK Joint Committee.

Mr Coveney said there had been contacts between EU and UK officials with a view to resuming more formal talks around the protocol.

"I think certainly the EU side wants to get a process under way again so that both sides are talking to each other," he told RTÉ News.

"There has been some back and forth this week between the two sides so far, which is good, but I think from an EU perspective, what really they're asking for now is clarity around a roadmap, to deliver what has been committed to by the British side."

He said these included detail on the completion of Border Control Posts (BCPs) at Larne and Belfast ports, and providing EU member states with real time access to UK import clearance IT systems. 

"These are things that are essential for the protocol to function, and I think if there is clarity around that roadmap of delivery, then obviously the UK have asks as well, in terms of flexibilities, extensions of grace periods, and so on, which the EU will look at," he said.

"I think everybody wants to try to resolve these issues through dialogue and discussion, as opposed to legal action and standoffs, which has unfortunately been where we've been for the last number of days."

He added: "Both sides are now working on trying to understand clearly what's required to get the protocol back on an even keel where both sides can be working in partnership with each other rather than trying to outmaneuver each other, or certainly moving away from unilateral actions."

He said member states were insisting that Maroš Šefčovič take "a firm position" on the UK's decision to unilaterally extend a number of grace periods that had been agreed by both sides last December.

The European Commission has asked London to produce a roadmap spelling out how it intends to implement the Protocol.

If a detailed roadmap was produced, Mr Coveney said, then Mr Šefčovič "would be open to looking at more flexibility and more pragmatism in terms of some of the difficult elements of the protocol from an implementation point of view."