EU And UK Still In Deadlock Over Northern Ireland Boarder Checks

EU And UK Still In Deadlock Over Northern Ireland Boarder Checks

By Ben Kerrigan-

The EU and The UK are still in deadlock over Northern Ireland Boarder checks, but are still in talks.

U.S President Joe Biden, has expressed concern over the stale mate position between the Uk and the EU, and set to intervene strongly during the G7. Biden is keen for the problem to be  resolved and have warned the Uk to honour the Good Friday agreement.

An incompatibility in  food safety rules  has already presented an immediate problem in relation to the entry of meat products. EU food safety rules do not allow chilled meat products to enter its market from non-members like the UK – frozen meat is not covered by the rules. The differences in the food standards practised may be worth further examination.

Exports of sausages and other chilled meets from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will effectively be banned at the end of the month, but the UK says it is ready to ignore the ban . Ignoring the ban will lead to legal action, the EU has threatened  and tariffs if that happens.

EU food safety rules do not allow chilled meat products to enter its market from non-members like the UK – frozen meat is not covered by the rules.

A six month “grace” period to allow companies to set up alternative supply chains was established but runs out at the end of June.

Lord Frost said the protocol was “being implemented in a way which is causing disruption in Northern Ireland and we had some pretty frank and honest discussions about that situation”.

“There weren’t any breakthroughs, there weren’t any breakdowns either and we are going to carry on talking,” he added.

“What we really now need to do is very urgently find some solutions, which support the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, Support the peace process in Northern Ireland and allow things to return to normal.”

He said the EU was insisting that the two sides “operate the protocol in an extremely purist way” and he did not see any problem with continuing to allow exports.

“We don’t see what risk is caused to Northern Ireland if chilled meats are imported there from GB.”

Warning Against Unilateral Action

Ahead of this week’s negotiations, Mr Sefcovic – a vice-president of the European Commission – warned the UK against taking further unilateral action on trade.

He said that if this were to happen, the EU “will not be shy in reacting swiftly, firmly and resolutely to ensure that the UK abides by its international law obligations”.

This could take the form of tariffs (taxes on imports) or quotas (a cap on the amount) on British goods under the terms of the 2019 Brexit deal for Northern Ireland.

Business leaders in Northern Ireland have warned that both sides need to shift if practical solutions are to be found.

Director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium and convenor of the NI Business Brexit working group, Aodhan Connolly, says the issues can be sorted out if the political will is there to do so.

“What we are saying to the EU and to the UK very clearly is that it is wonderful that you are talking to us, but now we need solutions delivered to show that our faith and our hard work has been warranted.”

Mr Sefcovic denied the EU had been inflexible, saying it had shown it was prepared to “find creative solutions when required”.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said she will also raise Northern Ireland issues with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at this weekend’s G7 summit in Cornwall.

He told Radio 4’s Today programme that the system was complex and bureaucratic.

“We buy cheese from a GB supplier and it used to be really simple. We’d place an order and three days later we would get the goods,” he said.

“Now we place an order and we have to fill in eight different bits of paperwork and that lead time that was four days has now become 12 days and that has a huge impact on our customers.”

He said there was an additional issue with goods coming from Europe: “I have an orange juice supplier in Spain, they then transport their goods to a warehouse in GB.

“We’ll then take some of those goods in to Ireland but I will have to charge a tariff to my customers in the Republic of Ireland.

“That doesn’t seem to make sense to me because the product doesn’t actually change from when it is made in Spain to when it maybe ends up with our consumer here in Ireland.”

Director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium and convenor of the NI Business Brexit working group, Aodhan Connolly, says the issues can be sorted out if the political will is there to do so.

“What we are saying to the EU and to the UK very clearly is that it is wonderful that you are talking to us, but now we need solutions delivered to show that our faith and our hard work has been warranted.”

He said an “immediate solution” was needed, “not just for business, we need to decompress the growing angst that is happening here in Northern Ireland”.

As well as meeting to discuss issues in Northern Ireland, the UK and EU are set to hold their first-ever set of official talks over implementing the post-Brexit trade deal agreed late last year.

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