It’s NOT working! Fresh Brexit battle looms as Frost set to ignite new row over hated deal
Micheál Martin discusses Northern Ireland Protocol
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The Protocol, part of the Brexit divorce deal agreed by the UK and Brussels, effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods. This means checks on goods being sent from Great Britain into the single market in some cases could result in prohibitions on certain products that do not comply with EU rules.
Following unionist anger over the Protocol at Stormont, Brexit minister Lord Frost put forward plans to renegotiate the Protocol, which he set out in a Command Paper last month.
Negotiations are currently ongoing with the EU to find a solution.
But this publication has learnt UK ministers are considering another extension as the September 30 deadline to the current extension runs out, sparking a potential “sausage war”.
After October 1, if the EU does not agree to a further grace period, then shipments of chilled meats including sausages into Northern Ireland from elsewhere in the United Kingdom will be restricted.
The UK initially asked for a 12-week extension to the grace period on animal products which includes chilled meats such as sausages, burgers and mince in June, which was granted by the European Commission.
A Whitehall source familiar with the ongoing negotiations over the protocol said the option for another extension “wasn’t ruled out”.
The source added to Express.co.uk: “We are aware of the upcoming deadline so are looking at various options.
“We have made clear the Northern Ireland Protocol is not working in its current form and are working in partnership with the European Commission to hopefully make changes that remain consistent with the Good Friday Agreement.”
UK Government officials have also been sending strong signals an extension of grace periods would most likely happen.
Siobhan Toland, Belfast City Council council’s head of environmental health said at the Council’s Brexit Committee meeting that the grace periods would “likely be extended”.
Addressing councillors on Wednesday, she added: “The looming deadlines obviously have an impact on businesses, but also it has an impact on our service delivery.
“The soundings we are getting is that the grace period will probably be extended, but again, we remain in the hands of the negotiations.”
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But the European Commission, who have remained silent on Lord Frost’s plans to renegotiate the Protocol, are understood to have some concerns about a potential extension.
A Brussels source added: “We are having constructive discussions with the UK.”
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