Talks are ongoing between the EU and the UK on the implementation of the protocol on Northern Ireland, which is part of the withdrawal agreement between the EU and the UK. The European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič and David Frost met most recently on Friday last. They agreed to continue and intensify talks at official level. They will meet again tomorrow. Following last week's meeting, Vice President Šefčovič noted the need to make serious headway this week, particularly on the supply of medicines.
I met with Vice President Šefčovič in Brussels on Tuesday. We agreed to maintain close contact as the European Commission continues its discussions. I strongly welcome the continuation of talks between the EU and the UK. We need to give these discussions every chance to succeed. To recall, the protocol is the joint EU-UK solution to mitigate the disruption Brexit causes for citizens and businesses on the island of Ireland. While concerns have been expressed about how the protocol is operating, it is important to note that support for the protocol remains strong in Northern Ireland. Recent polling in attitudes to the protocol in Northern Ireland show that a majority of people view the protocol as a good thing for Northern Ireland. People across communities support ongoing efforts to seek solutions and a pragmatic and flexible approach.
I remain in regular contact with business, civil society and political stakeholders in Northern Ireland. I am very aware of their views about the opportunities the protocol offers to Northern Ireland, giving them access to both the UK and EU internal markets. Surveys show that two thirds of Northern Ireland businesses see the opportunity here. We are seeing historically high foreign direct investment interest in Northern Ireland. We need to use the protocol to deliver on a prosperity agenda for the people of Northern Ireland. Realising these opportunities should be the focus of our energy at this time.
The European Commission has listened carefully to the views of Northern Ireland. The Commission has brought forward a package of proposals, published on 13 October, which addressed the issues that matter most to people in Northern Ireland. The Commission's engagement with people in Northern Ireland is continuing. Last week, Vice President Šefčovič held two round-table meetings with businesses and civil society to ensure their voices continue to be heard as talks with the UK progress.
Ensuring the uninterrupted long-term supply of medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is a key protocol-related priority. The European Union has committed to doing whatever it takes to address this issue. It has clearly signalled a willingness to amend EU law to ensure that the supply of medicines to Northern Ireland is fully safeguarded. The European Commission has also brought forward proposals regarding the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Its proposals could reduce sanitary and phytosanitary checks and controls by about 80%. It would cut in half the checks, controls and documentation currently needed for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. This would make it easier for Northern Irish businesses to move goods into Northern Ireland, while at the same time continuing to benefit from all the advantages of full access to the EU Single Market. The EU is also proposing an unprecedented role for Northern Ireland political representatives and stakeholders in the protocol, ensuring that the voices of the people of Northern Ireland are better heard and understood. As Vice President Šefčovič has underlined, this package represents a significant move by the EU.
The European Commission has acted in good faith. We now need a good faith response from the UK. I call on the UK Government to engage seriously and constructively in talks with the EU, so that we can provide stability and predictability for Northern Ireland. This is a point that I continue to make in my contacts internationally on the issue, including with my EU counterparts, whom I met in Brussels earlier this week - they have shown extraordinary solidarity and will continue to do so - and also in my contacts with the US Administration. I look forward to the Deputy's comments.