The Financial Times has published a report on Monday, suggesting that another extension to a grace period allowing chilled meat to continue to move from Britain into Northern Ireland is in the cards.
Grace periods for implementing post-Brexit checks on goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland have been a contentious issue for months, with London and Brussels sticking to their slightly different vision of post-Brexit trade rules.
After 1 January, new rules and border processes were applied to trade between the UK and the European Union. With Northern Ireland sharing a border with the Republic of Ireland, a EU member, the process implementation has been delayed. The latest grace period, allowing businesses and government sectors to readjust to the new trade order, has been extended from 1 July until 1 October.
A new extension is expected to be confirmed by the UK government early this week and will give both Brussels and the EU much-needed breathing space.
The Irish deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar said on Monday that the EU Commission is expected to “note” the extension decision by the UK.
Varadkar added that the UK Cabinet Minister Michael Gove has reassured him that Britain does not want to walk away from the Northern Ireland (NI) protocol.
REUTERS / Toby Melville/File PhotoIreland’s Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar
According to FT, one of the EU officials has said that “the idea is that the UK will continue to apply the same conditions and we will assume that this continues to allow for the discussions to conclude.”
The EU does not normally allow the import of chilled meats from third countries and has insisted that the ban on imports from the UK should be part of the Northern Ireland protocol, which provides for NI’s membership of both the EU and the UK single markets but introduces checks on goods shipped between the two.
On 30 June, London and Brussels avoided the so-called ‘sausage war’ by agreeing to extend the grace period for chilled meat coming from Great Britain to the British territory.
According to UK Brexit Minister David Frost, resolving the dispute over the NI protocol is fundamental to getting the relationship back on track.
While the UK is after a fundamental overhaul of the NI protocol, the EU has been adamant about keeping the document unchanged.
AFP 2021 / KENZO TRIBOUILLARDBritain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost arrives at the UK Representation to the EU in Brussels on December 17, 2020.
Ireland’s Varadkar also said Monday that the NI protocol was causing some “real disruptions” and the EU Commission was open to address them in the context of the existing agreement.