The UK and European Union have agreed to extend a grace period so chilled meats can continue being shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland for another three months.
The deal avoids a trade dispute – dubbed a “sausage war” – by delaying the ban until September 30 while efforts continue to find a lasting solution.
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At a glance: 5 key points
- European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said the extension, agreed on the day current arrangements were due to expire, came with strict conditions
- The potential ban on chilled meats from Great Britain is one result of Brexit’s contentious Northern Ireland Protocol, which has created a series of economic barriers on Irish Sea trade
- The protocol is aimed at avoiding a hard border with Ireland by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods
- To secure the extension the UK agreed to maintain existing rules relating to meat products, but will not be forced to make changes if Brussels varies its legislation
- Brexit minister Lord Frost has repeatedly complained about the implementation of the protocol, which was part of the deal negotiated by him and signed by Boris Johnson
What’s been said
Baroness Jenny Chapman, Lord Frost’s opposite number for Labour, said: “An extension to the chilled meats grace period is welcome.
“Nobody wants to see British products being blocked from entering Northern Ireland. This would be totally unnecessary and only add to current tensions.
“However, Boris Johnson must not waste this extension, the Government must stop playing games and instead use this period to come up with a long-term solution to the flaws in the deal he agreed with the EU.”
The UK had threatened to unilaterally extend the grace period to maintain the supply of sausages from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, in defiance of Brussels’ rules, which could have triggered retaliatory action from the EU.
The agreement – along with an EU promise to rewrite its rules to ensure medicines can continue being sent to Northern Ireland – showed there had been progress in discussions between the two sides.
Additional reporting by PA.