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EU Relations: Withdrawal Agreement

Volume 698: debated on Thursday 1 July 2021

My noble Friend the Minister of State in the Cabinet Office, the right hon. Lord Frost CMG yesterday made the following written statement:

The Government have been consistently clear that there should be no barriers on the movement of meat products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. In order to avoid any disruption to those movements, the Government proposed to the EU that it would be sensible to extend the grace period agreed at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee in December, which would otherwise have expired on 1 July, on certain conditions.

Following detailed discussions, the UK and EU have agreed to extend the grace period until 30 September. In line with that agreement, the United Kingdom has today set out a unilateral declaration, of which the EU has taken note, relating to the movement of meat products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. This sets out the conditions under which meat products otherwise classed as prohibited and restricted goods will move from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. This agreement does not require the rest of the United Kingdom to align with any changes in EU agrifood rules during the grace period—there is no dynamic alignment.

The extension ensures that Northern Ireland consumers will continue to be able to buy chilled meat products from Great Britain. This is a positive first step but agreement is still required on a permanent solution, and this further period provides time for those discussions to proceed. This is also only one of a very large number of problems with the way the protocol is currently operating, for which solutions need to be found with the EU to ensure the protocol delivers on its original aims: to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement, safeguard Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom, and protect the EU’s single market for goods.

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