Brexit

Great Brexit sausage fight is out of the pan and into freezer - for 3 months

Talks broke down earlier this week, and the European Union was threatening retaliation if Britain unilaterally extends a grace period for trade in chilled meat, including sausages. The problem has now been shelved until 1 October.
Talks broke down earlier this week, and the European Union was threatening retaliation if Britain unilaterally extends a grace period for trade in chilled meat, including sausages. The problem has now been shelved until 1 October. Paul Faith AFP/File

The European Union and the United Kingdom have agreed not to let a fight over the transport of chilled meats from Britain to Northern Ireland get out of control and further damage already fraught relations, which have been fundamentally changed since the UK left the EU last year.

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Some post-Brexit trade checks that had been scheduled to come into effect on 1st of July have now been put on hold until the end of September, giving London and Brussels extra time to find a compromise. Measures would have included checks on British sausages.

Without Wednesday's agreement, the export of chilled British meats to Northern Ireland would have banned as part of the complicated EU-UK divorce deal. One of the unresolved problems of Brexit is how to maintainan open border on the island of Ireland, a key element of the Northern Ireland peace process.

With an open border, the EU has insisted that trade checks must be imposed before British goods reach Northern Ireland, so that Brussels can protect its single seamless market of 27 member states, which includes the Irish Republic.

Sensible extension

“We are pleased we have been able to agree a sensible extension on chilled meats moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland," British Cabinet Minister David Frost said.

Britain and the EU have been in a spat over post-Brexit trade arrangements for Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK that borders the 27-nation bloc, for months, with London arguing that the terms of planned checks between Britain and Northern Ireland aren't realistic.

The EU's top post-Brexit official, Maroš Šefčovič warned, however, that with an additional grace period, “we are not issuing a blank check. The solution is of temporary nature to which strong conditions are attached, meaning the UK must fulfill political obligations.” 

Unworkable

Over the past several months, Britain has unilaterally delayed implementing some of the checks, drawing the threat of legal action from the EU. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has seized on the potential sausage ban for the Northern Irish, brandishing it as a symbol of how unworkable the arrangements are. Even US President Joe Biden was drawn into the dispute at the Group of Seven summit in England last month, raising concerns about the potential threat to Northern Ireland’s peace deal, brokered by an earlier Washington administation.

(With AP)

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