The British Government and the European Commission agreed extend three months the grace period to carry out customs controls on meat products sent to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UKLondon reported Wednesday.
“We are pleased to have been able to agree on a sensible extension for chilled meats,” said the Brexit minister, David Frost, in reference to some controversial provisions that were due to come into force on Thursday and that are causing strong tensions in that British region with a troubled past.
“Northern Ireland is an integral part of the UK and its consumers should be able to enjoy the products they have bought in Britain for years,” he added.
In Brussels, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Maros SefcovicHe warned: “We are not writing a blank check. This solution is temporary ”.
Boris Johnson’s executive infuriated the 27 by threatening to unilaterally extend a grace period for the application of controls, prompting European threats of retaliation, which could include selective tariffs.
Exit from the European market
But the dispute cooled down in recent days after the British government submitted a formal request for an extension. The UK formally left the European single market and customs union in the past January 1. On 24 December both parties signed a trade agreement, which includes a “protocol” relating to Northern Ireland’s trade with the rest of the country.
The measure, which imposes customs controls on certain goods from Great Britain, was designed to prevent uncontrolled products will enter the EU out the back door through the neighboring Republic of Ireland.
But the unionist communities of Northern Ireland, attached to their membership of the United Kingdom, are opposed to consider that this separates them from the rest of the country.
A European official told AFP that the three-month extension will be used to discuss a broader agreement on products of animal and vegetable origin.
“We do not intend to continue with continued grace period extensions, Northern Ireland deserves stability and predictability, and the best way is to have a permanent solution, mutually agreed in these three months, “he said.
The European Commission “will be tough” if Britain does not abide by the Brexit deal, he added.