A trade dispute between the European Union and the United Kingdom over sausages and other meat from the refrigerator has been averted for the time being. Great Britain can continue to supply the meat products to Northern Ireland for three months longer, Brussels and London have agreed.
Many Northern Irish people are attached to their British sausages, but since Brexit, they are no longer welcome in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland indeed belongs to the United Kingdom, which in practice no longer belongs to the EU as of this year. But EU rules still apply to prevent a border from being built between Ireland and Northern Ireland. And the EU is banning refrigerated meat products from outside the union.
And not everyone is ready for that yet, the EU acknowledges. Northern Irish supermarkets have already been given six months to find new suppliers, but that period ends on Thursday. That is why she gives three months longer, until September 30. But after that, it should be fine.
The British government had requested an extension of the leniency period. But she does not want Northern Ireland to buy its meat products in Ireland, for example. London instead wants to change the rules for trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. However, the EU is not interested in that. According to European Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič, if the British want to continue supplying such goods to Northern Ireland and the EU without any worries, they will have to follow the similar inspection and other rules as the union.
Solutions have also been found for other border problems, the EU says. This makes it easier for certain medicines and assistance dogs to travel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. And Northern Irish drivers can continue to use their existing insurance documents when entering Ireland.
“This is a positive first step, but we still need to agree on a permanent solution,” said UK Brexit negotiator David Frost. According to him, the issue of refrigerated meat is just one of the many problems surrounding the practical implementation of the Brexit agreements. He added that he would be “energetic” to find a solution with the EU.