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UK, EU extend grace period for chilled meats into Northern Ireland

Xinhua English


LONDON, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Britain and the European Union (EU) agreed on Wednesday to extend the grace period for another three months for chilled meat products coming from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The temporary arrangement was announced just hours before exemption on customs checks expires on Thursday.

The extension means that Northern Ireland consumers will be able to buy chilled meat products from Great Britain, and allows for further discussions to continue on a permanent solution, a statement from the British government 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," the British Brexit minister, David Frost, said.

Frost called it "a positive first step", but both sides still need to agree a permanent solution.

Recognizing chilled meats issue is only one of a very large number of problems with the way the Northern Ireland Protocol is currently operating, Frost said solutions need to be found with the EU to ensure it delivers on its original aims, to protect the Good Friday Agreement, safeguard Northern Ireland's place in Britain, and protect the EU's single market for goods.

Earlier on Wednesday, a high court in Belfast ruled the Northern Ireland Protocol is lawful after a group of unionist politicians had challenged the protocol in judicial review proceedings.

Northern Ireland is at the center of the post-Brexit trade dispute with the EU.

As part of the Brexit deal, the Northern Ireland Protocol stipulates Northern Ireland remains in the EU single market and customs union to avoid a hard border between the region and the Republic of Ireland.

However, this leads to a new "regulatory" border between Britain and Northern Ireland, which exacerbates the conflict between pro-Britain and pro-independence groups in Northern Ireland.

Protests and riots raged for days in April in Northern Ireland. Edwin Poots, chief of the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party, was forced to resign after only three weeks in the post. Enditem