Sausage war ENDS – what the Brexit trading nightmare means for you

Brexit grace period extension discussed by Leo Varadkar

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The UK Government is expected to announce yet another delay to the Irish Sea border checks this week, part of the Northern Ireland protocol implemented as part of the UK’s exit from the European Union. It is understood Maroš Šefčovič and Lord Frost have reached an agreement on the protocol.

The EU is understood to have once again suspended the introduction of the checks to provide more time for talks.

An official said the implementation of the agreement has been pushed back “quite far”.

Downing Street committed to “shortly” updating parliament on the upcoming arrangements.

The UK wants a “standstill” of all grace periods and legal actions as it attempts to change the mind of the EU and engage in a renegotiation of the protocol.

The EU says it will be as flexible as it can be within the terms of the protocol – but is refusing to renegotiate.

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What is the NI protocol?

The NI protocol helps prevent checks across the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

During Brexit negotiations, the two sides agreed that protecting the Good Friday agreement was of paramount importance.

Part of this means keeping the land border between the two open.

However, as Northern Ireland is part of the UK and no longer part of the EU, new arrangements for goods transportation was needed.

The EU requires some goods, such as several foods like milk and eggs, to be inspected when they arrive from non-EU states.

Under the NI protocol, it was agreed that Northern Ireland would continue to follow EU single market rules to prevent such checks along the border.

Instead, checks would take place on good travelling between the island of Ireland and Wales, Scotland and England.

It has prompted criticism that a new border has been created in the Irish Sea.

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How does it affect me?

Under EU food safety rules, chilled meat products are not allowed to enter the single market from non-member countries, which now includes the UK.

That means sending sausages from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is in theory not allowed.

However, a grace period has been in place since January where the rules do not apply yet – that period, which was due to end on June 30, has now been extended beyond September 30 – yet there is still no agreement on how to resolve the dispute in the long term.

At that point, some Great Britain-made meat products would be prohibited in Northern Ireland – what has popularly become known as the “sausage ban”.

The concern lies largely with supermarkets, which will need to start using much stricter export health certification for all animal products going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

If the grace period does end, Northern Irish shops will be banned from selling British meat from that date.

The UK had previously warned it was ready to ignore the rules if an extension was not granted, even though it signed up to them when it negotiated the Northern Ireland Protocol.

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