// George Eustice criticises “bonkers” situation in which British-made sausages could not be sold in Northern Ireland
// It comes amid continuing rows over post-Brexit border arrangements via the Northern Ireland Protocol
// The EU warned it is ready to act “firmly and resolutely” to ensure the UK abides by its commitments
Environment Secretary George Eustice has criticised a “bonkers” situation in which British-made sausages could not be sold in Northern Ireland amid continuing rows over post-Brexit border arrangements.
Eustice said the EU had been “slow to engage” with efforts to iron out difficulties ahead of the ending of a grace period in the agreement between the UK and the bloc which allows Northern Irish shops to continue selling chilled meats – including sausages and mince.
However, Brussels warned it is ready to act “firmly and resolutely” to ensure the UK abides by its commitments in the Northern Ireland Protocol and does not unilaterally grant an extension at the end of June.
- B&M condemns “nonsense” Irish border rules
- Tesco tells suppliers to ship food across Irish Sea themselves
- Northern Ireland protocol checks “could be overwhelmed when supermarket exemption ends”
Eustice said today that he had “no idea” why the EU imposed “idiosyncratic” rules on the movement of chilled meats.
“I suspect it links to some kind of perception that they can’t really trust any country other than an EU country to make sausages,” he told LBC.
“I think that’s a nonsense. I think we’ve got a very good sausage industry in this country, we’ve got the highest standards of food hygiene in the world.”
He also said “there’s no problem with our sausages or indeed our chicken nuggets”.
The row centres on EU fears that goods from Northern Ireland may enter the single market.
Former French European minister and MEP Nathalie Loiseau told the Today programme: “We are warning (that) you signed an agreement, you have to implement it. Otherwise, there are measures that we can take legally that will protect our single market.”
And in an article for the Daily Telegraph, the European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic said they would “not be shy” in taking action to ensure that the UK abides by its international commitments.
The UK has already angered Brussels by unilaterally extending grace periods in the Northern Ireland Protocol on supermarket goods and parcels.
Ahead of talks tomorrow with the Brexit minister Lord Frost to discuss the implementation of the protocol, Sefcovic said the commission would not tolerate further failures of compliance by London.
“Unfortunately, we see numerous and fundamental gaps in the UK’s implementation – even though the protocol entered into force over 17 months ago,” he said.
However, Eustice said: “There are lots of ways to give the EU the assurance that they say they want for their single market, and what we should be doing is working together to identify ways forward.
“And that’s where the EU have been quite slow to date to engage.”
with PA Wires