UK and EU agree truce in sausage war dispute over Northern Ireland

A deal has been reached to avoid a “sausage war” with the European Union over the shipment of chilled meats from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

A grace period allowing the continued supply of chilled meats across the Irish Sea has been extended until September 30.

Brexit minister Lord Frost said: “We are pleased we have been able to agree a sensible extension on chilled meats moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland – one that does not require rules in the rest of the UK to align with future changes in EU agrifood rules.

“This is a positive first step but we still need to agree a permanent solution, Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom and its consumers should be able to enjoy products they have bought from Great Britain for years.”

A potential prohibition on chilled meats is one result of Brexit’s contentious Northern Ireland Protocol, which has created a series of economic barriers on Irish Sea trade.

The protocol is aimed at avoiding a hard border with Ireland by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.

Shipments of chilled meats from third countries into the single market are banned – a prohibition which will eventually cover the rest of the UK unless a lasting solution is found.

Warrenpoint Port (Liam McBurney/PA)
Warrenpoint Port in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)

Lord Frost has repeatedly complained about the implementation of the protocol, which was part of the Brexit deal negotiated by him and signed by Boris Johnson.

“This is a very clear sign that the protocol has to be operated in a pragmatic and proportionate way,” he said.

“The chilled meats issue is only one of a very large number of problems with the way the protocol is currently operating, and solutions need to be found with the EU to ensure it delivers on its original aims: to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, safeguard Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom, and protect the EU’s single market for goods.

“We look to work energetically with the EU to do so.”

In order to secure the extension, the UK agreed to maintain its existing rules relating to meat products.

The products from Great Britain will only be sold in supermarkets, will be accompanied by official certificates and will bear a label making clear they are for sale only in the UK – meaning they cannot be allowed to cross into Ireland and the EU’s single market.

Under the deal, the United Kingdom will endeavour to introduce product-level labelling “as soon as is practicable”.