The European Commission received today a request from the United Kingdom to extend a grace period concerning the movement of chilled meats from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, agreed within the context of the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland.
This grace period is due to expire on 30 June 2021. The UK has requested that it be extended to 30 September 2021. The Commission will now assess this request.
The Commission has already indicated its openness to finding solutions in line with the Protocol.
However, for that to happen, the UK must fully implement the Protocol, which is the solution found to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement, the functioning of the all-island economy, and the integrity of the EU's Single Market. There is no alternative to the Protocol.
When looking for solutions, providing stability and predictability for the people of Northern Ireland will be of paramount importance.
Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič will reach out to Lord Frost and his team to set up a meeting as soon as possible to discuss this request in detail. The Commission will also consult the European Parliament and the Council.
In December 2020, given that the UK was not fully prepared for the end of the transition period - in particular regarding the import of food products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland - the EU and UK agreed a number of unilateral declarations to provide time-limited solutions in certain areas (for example, relating to the import of meat products or medicines, amongst other things).
These temporary solutions are subject to strict conditions to ensure that all relevant stakeholders are in a position to fully comply with the Protocol in the course of 2021. All stakeholders were expected to use this time effectively to adapt supply chains for chilled meats sold in Northern Ireland.