UK Government Asks EU To Delay Sausage Trade Cliff-Edge By Three Months
The government has formally asked the European Union to delay the imminent ban on British sausages and chilled meat entering Northern Ireland until September 30.
The UK sent Brussels the request on Thursday morning and is waiting for a response, PoliticsHome understands.
An ongoing row over the Northern Ireland Protocol, agreed as part of Brexit negotiations, has recently centered on EU regulations forbidding chilled meats from entering its markets.
Northern Ireland has followed these rules since 1 January but the two sides agreed a grace period allowing this trade to continue from Great Britain to Northern Ireland until June 31.
The grace period is due to expire in two weeks but the UK government has today formally asked the EU to postpone it for three months.
A government source said this would create "breathing space" and time for both sides to negotiate ways of potentially allowing the trade to continue permanently. The two sides are struggling to agree ways of making the Northern Ireland Protocol simpler for affected businesses to follow. Some traders in Great Britain have decided to stop sending goods to Northern Ireland altogether due to costly and time-consuming new red tape.
A meeting last week between Cabinet Office minister David Frost, who oversees the UK's post-Brexit relationship with the EU, and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefvocic failed to produce a breakthrough.
Sefcovic accused the government of failing to uphold its commitment to implement the Protocol and said the EU's patience was "wearing very, very thin".
The government believes the bloc is taking an "overly-legalistic" approach to Northern Ireland and that the number of checks taking place on goods heading across the Irish Sea is disproportionate.
Brandon Lewis, the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, in an interview with PoliticsHome this week said the EU wasn't being flexible enough and "really struggles to understand" delicate issues of identity in the province.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has up to now rejected the EU's proposal of a veterinary agreement on the grounds that it would mean compromising on the UK's national sovereignty.
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