EU proposes "sausage war" ceasefire

Photo: EPA Maroš Šefčovič

The EU agreed on Wednesday to a ceasefire with Britain in a post-Brexit dispute dubbed the "sausage war" by extending a grace period for shipments of certain meat products from mainland UK to Northern Ireland, news wires reported. The Union will also make it easier for medicines and guide dogs to cross the Irish Sea and allow Northern Irish drivers to travel to Ireland with existing insurance documents.

The moves are designed to ease tensions following Britain's exit from the EU. “We have spared no effort in trying to mitigate some of the challenges that have arisen in the implementation of the Protocol. Today's package of practical solutions clearly demonstrates that we are firm on implementation but continue to work hard for the benefit of the people in Northern Ireland,” VP Maroš Šefčovič said.

The grace period on "chilled meat products" was due to end on 1 July, when British non-frozen sausages or mince would not have been able to cross the Irish Sea because of an EU ban on such products from third countries, which now include Britain. London called for three more months to allow the two sides to resolve the trade difficulties over Northern Ireland, which has faced disruption since Britain completed its exit from the EU at the end of 2020.

The trading arrangement is governed by the Northern Ireland protocol, which has needed to find a delicate balance of keeping open the province's border with EU member state Ireland to protect the 1998 Good Friday peace deal, while stopping goods entering the EU's single market across that frontier. The protocol keeps Northern Ireland inside the single market for goods, but this requires checks and controls on goods crossing the Irish Sea from mainland Britain.

The Commission says the three months should be final and used for supermarkets to establish different supplies of meat products or for Britain to accept an EU proposal to maintain aligned food safety standards. Brussels says this would remove 80% of checks. London has said a key part of Brexit was not to be bound to EU rules.

More on this subject: Brexit

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