EU considering UK request for three-month delay to Brexit 'sausage ban'

17 June 2021, 19:41

David Frost has requested an extension of the grace period, which is currently due to end on 30 June
David Frost has requested an extension of the grace period, which is currently due to end on 30 June. Picture: PA

By Daisy Stephens

The European Commission has said it will consider a request by the UK to extend the grace period allowing sausages to be sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

In a statement, Brussels said it was open to finding a solution and Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic will seek to arrange talks with Brexit minister Lord Frost and his team to discuss the request.

As things stand, the Northern Ireland Protocol will prevent chilled meats from Great Britain being exported into Northern Ireland once the grace period ends.

"The commission has already indicated its openness to finding solutions in line with the Protocol," said the EU statement.

"However, for that to happen, the UK must fully implement the Protocol, which is the solution found to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement, the functioning of the all-island economy and the integrity of the EU's single market.

"There is no alternative to the Protocol."

Brexit minister David Frost officially requested a three-month delay to the end of the grace period on Thursday.

If approved, it would move the end of the grace period from 30 June to 30 September.

"Last month, the Government submitted a written proposal to the EU on extending the chilled meats grace period," said a UK Government spokesperson on Thursday.

"Today, we have written to the EU to reiterate our request, calling for a temporary extension to 30 September.

"This would allow movements to continue while we seek to find a longer term solution with the EU.

"There is no case whatsoever for preventing chilled meats from being sold in Northern Ireland - any ban would be contrary to the aims of the Protocol and the interests of the people of Northern Ireland."

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The dispute over chilled meat has been ongoing for weeks.

The 6-month grace period, introduced in December 2020, was designed to allow checks at Northern Irish borders to be gradually phased in.