Great Britain

Sausage wars: Lord Frost asks EU to accept three month delay – complete ban in 12 days

EU 'has a responsibility to support protocol' says Frost

The ban was agreed to in 2019 as part of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Under bureaucratic red tape introduced as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, chilled meats are not allowed to be transported from Britain to Northern Ireland from the end of this month.

Ministers have lashed out at the EU's administration of the Protocol, accusing the European Commission of being "purist" in its implementation of the new rules and damaging trade within the UK.

The Government took action in March to unilaterally extend the grace period on sanitary checks on retail food products crossing the Irish Sea.

The EU started legal action against Britain following the decision, accusing the Government of breaking an international treaty.

Now, ministers have asked for Brussels's permission to extend the grace period on the ban on chilled meat shipments from June 30 until September.

READ MORE ON OUR BREXIT LIVE BLOG 

Lord Frost has formally requested a three-month delay to checks

Lord Frost has formally requested a three-month delay to checks (Image: GETTY)

The request was confirmed by the European Commission who said they would now "assess" the UK's submission.

In a statement, the Commission said it was willing to find solutions to ease problems caused by the Protocol but demanded the terms of the withdrawal agreement be implemented in full.

It said: "The European Commission received today a request from the United Kingdom to extend a grace period concerning the movement of chilled meats from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, agreed within the context of the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland.

"This grace period is due to expire on 30 June 2021. The UK has requested that it be extended to 30 September 2021. The Commission will now assess this request.

"The Commission has already indicated its openness to finding solutions in line with the Protocol.

"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.

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Northern Ireland Protocol 'sausage wars' explained

Northern Ireland Protocol 'sausage wars' explained (Image: EXPRESS)

"There is no alternative to the Protocol."

European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič is now expected to contact Lord Frost to set up a meeting to discuss the proposed extension.

The pair have already met in London last week to discuss the Protocol and the impact it is having on businesses and communities in Northern Ireland.

Lord Frost has argued the frictions in trade caused by the implementation of red tape on trade across the Irish Sea risks undermining the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.

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Lord Frost held talks with Maroš Šefčovič last week

Lord Frost held talks with Maroš Šefčovič last week (Image: PA)

The discussions broke up without agreement on the Protocol

The discussions broke up without agreement on the Protocol (Image: PA)

Their meeting broke up without a breakthrough on the issue and with officials in the UK pessimistic about securing a compromise on the Protocol.

Boris Johnson has warned he would be willing to rip up the Protocol if the EU failed to move on its position.

His official spokesman said last week "all options are on the table" to deal with frictions in trade.

Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol allows for the UK or EU to suspend the treaty if it causes "serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade".

Boris Johnson told the EU to get it 'into their heads' the UK is one country

Boris Johnson told the EU to get it 'into their heads' the UK is one country (Image: SKY)

Discussions on the Protocol dominated the G7 last weekend with Mr Johnson holding a number of bilateral meetings with EU leaders on the sidelines of the international summit.

Individually France's Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Angela Merkel, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen all warned the Prime Minister to implement the terms of the deal.

Clearly frustrated the EU were failing to grasp the seriousness of the issues caused by the Protocol, the Prime Minister said in a media interview the EU needs to "get into their heads" that the UK is a single country.

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