UK and EU agree grace period extension after Brexit 'sausage war'
The UK Government and European Union have agreed to extend the grace period allowing the trade of chilled meat from Great Britain to Northern Ireland by three months.
Originally due to expire on Wednesday, the grace period will now continue until September 30 temporarily, putting the "sausage war" on hold.
The extension means Northern Ireland consumers will continue to be able to buy chilled meat products from Great Britain.
Cabinet Office minister David Frost welcomed the agreement, but admitted it was just a “first step”.
He said: “We are pleased we have been able to agree a sensible extension on chilled meats moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland – one that does not require rules in the rest of the UK to align with future changes in EU agrifood rules.
“This is a positive first step, but we still need to agree a permanent solution. Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom and its consumers should be able to enjoy products they have bought from Great Britain for years.
“This is a very clear sign that the protocol has to be operated in a pragmatic and proportionate way.
“The chilled meats issue is only one of a very large number of problems with the way the protocol is currently operating, and solutions need to be found with the EU to ensure it delivers on its original aims: to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, safeguard Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom, and protect the EU's single market for goods.
"We look to work energetically with the EU to do so.”
Both sides are under increasing pressure to find ways of improving the Northern Ireland Protocol for affected businesses following growing unrest among unionist communities.
A potential prohibition on chilled meats 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.
Shipments of chilled meats from third countries into the single market are banned – a prohibition that will eventually cover the rest of the UK unless a lasting solution is found.
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