George Eustice calls on EU to remove ‘nonsensical’ sausage ban
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Mairead McGuinness said trust between the EU and the UK needs to be rebuilt and added that the only way a solution to the problems could be found is if both parties are willing to work together. The European Commissioner for financial stability, financial services and capital markets, made her comments to a British-Irish Chamber of Commerce virtual event.
She said: “We want the protocol implemented in full and we are and have been willing to find solutions to practical problems that exist.
“But we don’t like unilateral action and that is putting it mildly.
“Once the UK took unilateral action it just begs the question as to how we are going to build a relationship and trust needs to be restored.”
She also touched on the UK’s request to extend the grace period for chilled meat to be allowed into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
Supporting the move, she said she hoped the extra time could offer some “calm” in the tense stand-off between London and Brussels.
Last week the UK Government submitted a request to Brussels asking for an extra three months to a post-Brexit grace period before a ban on cold meat exports to Northern Ireland is ushered in.
Brexit minister Lord Frost’s bid to push back the June 30 deadline was aimed at buying more time to resolve the so-called “sausage war” with the bloc.
Under the Brexit deal, the province remained part of the EU’s single market for goods.
EU food safety regulations allow only frozen meats to enter the single market, meaning chilled meat such as sausages and minced beef are prohibited.
Since the request for a delay was lodged, Brussels has signalled it is willing to back down in the face of a looming trade war and grant the UK more time.
And Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney said he would be “urging” the EU to “respond with generosity” to the UK’s request.
Ms McGuinness said: “From my side I welcome this because I think it is an opportunity for a little bit of calm and maybe common sense to prevail where we know there are problems to be resolved.”
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The request has fuelled hope that both sides could reach a compromise in their row over the protocol.
Ms McGuinness went on to stress that the precarious situation between the UK and the EU could not be solved unless both sides talk to each other, saying if they do “we can rebuild trust”.
She accused ministers of ignoring the protocol after it was signed, saying it was “put on a shelf in the UK by the Government”.
The Northern Ireland Protocol continues to be a thorn in the side of the Prime Minister as he tries to build the UK’s post-Brexit path into the future.
Last week Maros Sefcovic, Vice-President of the European Commission said Britain should show “unwavering commitment” to implementing the treaty, rather than “continually putting it into doubt”.
The protocol, which is designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, means goods heading from Britain to Northern Ireland have to undergo checks.
Unionists fear this trade border down the Irish Sea effectively cuts them off from the rest of the UK and are calling for the protocol to the scrapped.
In a speech at the College of Europe, Mr Sefcovic said: “I welcome that the UK is recognising the value of this approach on one of the outstanding issues, the supply of chilled meats from Great Britain to Northern Ireland because what the protocol truly embodies is trust.”
Yesterday Leo Varadkar said the Irish Government is prepared to “go the extra mile” to find solutions to the protocol problems.
But the Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) ruled out abandoning it altogether, saying all of the “realistic alternatives” have been rejected by Unionism.
Mr Varadkar said he is willing to engage with the next leader of the DUP to find solutions, but criticised the party’s unwillingness to compromise.
He said: “We are willing to engage through the European Union, with the British Government, in consultation with all of the parties in Northern Ireland.
“We’re willing to go the extra mile to provide any kind of practical fixes that we can within the terms of the agreement.”
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