Thursday, 29 Jul 2021

EU silly sausages! Brussels to end pathetic trade war threats after Frost proposal

Brexit: EU 'needs to be reasonable' warns Truss

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Eurocrats are considering plans to offer Downing Street more time before imposing a blockade on sales of chilled meats from Britain in the region. The move comes after Brexit minister Lord Frost proposed extending the grace period on EU red tape to create “breathing space for the current discussions to continue”. EU officials had previously threatened to slap trade tariffs on British goods as cross-Channel relations hit a new low in the row over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Both sides are currently holding talks to end the dispute over EU-enforced trade checks in the province, but Lord Frost today conceded those efforts are making little progress.

Lord Frost said: “We have asked and suggested to the EU that the right way forward would be to agree to extend the grace period at least for a bit to provide a bit of a breathing space for the current discussions to continue and to try and find solutions and I still hold out some hope they might agree to that.

“It seems a very narrow point to take such a purist view about. If we can’t agree it we’ll obviously have to consider all our options.

“There’s no risk of Great British sausages ending up in the single market. We’re not aware it’s happened and I’d like to think someone would’ve told us if it has. It would seem a pity to make this negotiation which is already pretty complex and tense more so by being purist about that.”

The European Commission has denied receiving a request to extend the current grace period on chilled meat exports, which expires on June 30.

A spokesman for the EU executive said: “I’m not aware of any such recent requests.”

But EU sources indicated they would be willing to back a move as part of a new push by Brussels to find practical solutions in the dispute.

One EU insider told “We’re obviously not against it.”

Brussels would likely stipulate that any extension could only be granted if Downing Street signs up to a number of strict conditions.

Eurocrats are already frustrated that previously agreed steps for implementing the post-Brexit border fix haven’t been met.

The source said: “We agreed to this grace period in December and it included certain conditions which the UK had to respect. We’re six months in and they’ve done very little by the way of respecting those conditions.”

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One such area of contention is labelling on supermarket shipments indicating that goods are only for consumption in Northern Ireland.

And Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s negotiator, would likely insist that any extension would be a one-off.

“Rolling grace periods are not the best thing if we’re to create certainty and predictability for the people of Northern Ireland,” the source added.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen yesterday rowed back on sausage trade war threats to avoid a dressing-down from Washington.

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EU 'has a responsibility to support protocol' says Frost

The European Commission President said she was “deeply convinced” a fix could be found and vowed to be more flexible.

The olive branch came ahead of a meeting with US President Joe Biden.

He stressed Brexit rows must not damage the Good Friday peace process.

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