Irish sausages and German bratwurst are set to disappear from British supermarkets in new Brexit blow to trade, it is feared.
Talks to prevent an EU ban on the importing of chilled meats are likely to fail, a trade expert says – and the terms of the exit deal mean the UK will be required to do the same.
At stake is UK exports of sausage meat, uncooked beef burgers and other uncooked prepared products worth tens of millions of pounds a year.
But the deadlock could also result in popular EU goods, such as Irish sausages and German bratwurst, being turned back at ports – while Northern Ireland would be unable to import British-prepared raw meat.
David Henig, director of European Centre for International Political Economy, said the talks had failed to achieve a breakthrough, warning: “It doesn’t look like the EU is likely to change their view.”
He said: “If the EU has a ban on the import of chilled sausage meat, mincemeat, that will be the UK position as well from 1 January – because of the way we have rolled over EU law.”
EU regulations state that uncooked prepared meat products, such as sausages and burgers, cannot be imported into the bloc unless they are frozen to minus 18C.
The negotiations are aimed at persuading the EU to agree to an export health certificate for such processed meats, but they have failed to make much progress.
Britain attempted is believed to have attempted to ratchet up pressure by warning that its own ban would harm EU exports.
Ireland is particularly vulnerable, because Britain is a vital market, accounting for 335,000 tonnes of beef, pig, sheep and poultry meat exports worth €1.3bn in 2018, The Times reported.
Mr Henig, speaking to BBC Radio 4, stressed: “We won’t be stopped from eating our own sausages though – we left the EU.”
And he added: “There is joke doing the rounds that the EU will have to be preparing for the wurst.”
The dispute has revived memories of the famous ‘Yes Minister’ sketch, in which the fictional prime minister Jim Hacker fought off an attempt by Brussels to rename the British sausage.
“They can stop us calling it the sausage,” he protested. “Apparently it’s going to be called the emulsified, high-fat offal tube.”
In the real world the threat to imports is growing. “To be honest, we are running out of time and this issue has been known for some months now,” Mr Henig added.
He stressed the consequences for Irish Sea trade, saying: “They won’t be able to import into Northern Ireland, from Great Britain, chilled sausages.”