Tuesday, May 17

Truce in the “sausage war”: EU and UK delay Brexit controls in Northern Ireland

The European Union and the United Kingdom have agreed to extend for three months, until September 30, the grace period in which border controls in Northern Ireland do not apply to chilled meat products from Great Britain, sources have indicated this Wednesday community.

The EU and the United Kingdom turn the page on Brexit, but the problems do not end

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The Irish protocol included in the agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU prevents the return of a trade border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. However, it creates new controls on goods traveling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, a region of the United Kingdom where the rules of the EU single market continue to apply after Brexit.

The current grace period on the sale of refrigerated meat products, such as British sausages, ground beef and Nuggets chicken in Northern Ireland expired this Wednesday, June 30.

Community sources explain that the three-month extension will allow interested parties, in particular Northern Ireland supermarkets, to complete the necessary adjustments in the supply chain. They specify that so far companies have adapted supply chains to the new context, but “not enough.”

In any case, they emphasize that this “temporary solution” is subject to “strict conditions”, such as that the meat products remain under the control of the competent authorities of Northern Ireland or that they have an official health certificate from the United Kingdom. Furthermore, chilled meat can only be sold to end consumers in supermarkets located in Northern Ireland and must be packaged and labeled “accordingly”.

The sources detail that the intention of the EU is to use these three additional months to debate a “broader” agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary controls with London and recalled that Brussels has already offered a temporary pact similar to the one closed with Switzerland “that would eliminate the 80 % of inspections “on products arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain. In fact, with a Swiss-style pact, sanitary and phytosanitary controls would disappear completely and only those related to customs regulations would be maintained.

Despite accepting the extension, Brussels has warned on Wednesday that it has no intention of granting new extensions because Northern Ireland “deserves stability and predictability.” “The best way to achieve this is to have a permanent solution mutually agreed upon,” the sources confirm.

David Frost (UK): “A positive first step”

The British negotiator for Brexit, David Frost, said on Wednesday that the extension reached between London and Brussels is “a positive first step” although it will be necessary to find a “permanent solution” to the dispute.

The British politician has spoken in a statement to the BBC about the agreement forged between the European Union (EU). “We are pleased to have been able to agree on a sensible extension on chilled meats ranging from Great Britain to Northern Ireland – one that does not require rules in the rest of the UK to align with future changes to the Union’s agri-food standards. European “.

According to the politician, this agreement between both parties represents “a positive first step” but warns that “a permanent solution will still need to be agreed” since “Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom and its consumers should be able to enjoy the products they have bought from Britain for years. ” Frost also adds that this is “a very clear signal that the protocol has to operate in a pragmatic and proportionate manner.”

“The issue of chilled meats is just one of many problems with the way the protocol is currently operating and solutions have to be found with the EU to ensure that it is implemented according to its original objectives: to protect the Agreement from Belfast (from Good Friday); safeguard Northern Ireland’s place in the UK and protect the EU’s single food market, “he says. In this sense, he underlines that this country “seeks to work energetically with the EU to do so.”

Medicines and animals

On the other hand, the community club has announced a solution to ensure the supply of medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The European Commission will present a legislative proposal in the autumn to exceptionally allow certain functions to ensure compliance of medicines to be located in Great Britain. The objective is that the law is approved before the end of the year.

Sources explain that this remedy will allow generics to remain available in Northern Ireland. They specify that certain regulatory functions must be located in the European Union for medicines to be marketed in Northern Ireland and recognize that this poses problems when generics are imported from third countries such as India to a wholesaler in Great Britain that exports them to Northern Ireland .

For this reason, this legal adjustment is necessary, which the Commission has already discussed with the Member States (EU co-legislators together with the European Parliament) and which is expected to be adopted at the end of the year, when another grace period on medicines ends.

Brussels also announced this Wednesday a “solution” to facilitate the mobility of guide dogs that accompany people traveling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Also, sources say that they will stop requiring UK drivers to show their green multiple insurance certificate, which they said will help those who cross the Northern Ireland border and enter the Republic of Ireland. The movement of cattle that frequently move from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will also be facilitated.

The United Kingdom and the EU are currently mired in a dispute over the protocol, as London argues that the customs controls that were agreed after Brexit generate too much friction in its internal market, while the EU urges the United Kingdom to comply with what has been agreed .