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EU says tensions with UK stem from Brexit, not N.Ireland protocol

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrives for a face-to-face EU summit in Brussels, May 24, 2021. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS, May 25 (Reuters) - The European Union's tensions with former member Britain are not due to problems with the Northern Ireland protocol agreed by both sides, but Brexit itself, the head of the bloc's executive said on Tuesday.

Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference after the first day of an EU summit in Brussels that all 27 member states of the bloc agreed that there can be no alternative to a full and correct implementation of the protocol.

"There should be no doubt that there is no alternative to the full and correct implementation of the protocol, she said.

"It is important to reiterate that the protocol is the only possible solution to ensure peace and stability in Northern Ireland while protecting the integrity of the European Union single market," von der Leyen added.

"If we see problems today we should not forget that they do not come from the protocol but result from Brexit, that is the reason why the problems are there."

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Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and John Chalmers

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