UK and EU expected to sign truce to avoid ‘sausage war’ trade dispute

Sausages and other chilled meats will continue being shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, with the UK and European Union expected to agree an extension to the current arrangements.

A grace period allowing chilled meats to cross the Irish Sea is due to expire at the end of Wednesday but both sides expect it to be extended.

Downing Street said that it expected a deal to avoid a ban would be reached “on terms which are acceptable to the UK”.

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The No 10 comments came after European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said he was confident a solution could be found before the scheduled ban on sausage shipments came into force on July 1.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We expect to agree an extension to the chilled meat grace period soon, on terms which are acceptable to the UK.

“We will announce further details in the usual way.”

The extension is expected to be announced on Wednesday, the last possible date to avoid a ban on chilled meats from Great Britain entering Northern Ireland’s shops.

The UK Government had threatened to unilaterally extend the grace period, something which would have triggered retaliatory action from the EU – a trade conflict which has been dubbed the “sausage war”.

Brexit
Maros Sefcovic, left, and Brexit minister Lord Frost, right, have been leading talks on the issue (Eddie Mulholland/Daily Telegraph/PA)

The prohibition on chilled meats is one element 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 cover the rest of the UK unless a lasting solution is found.

Mr Sefcovic told a Northern Ireland Assembly committee on Monday that he was confident an extension would be granted “that will address both sides’ needs and concerns”.

He said an “obvious” way to remove new Irish Sea trade checks and restrictions on a longer term basis would be for the UK to strike a deal on animal and plant standards that would see London align with Brussels’ agri-food regulations.