What the Northern Ireland protocol extension for “chilled meats” means for British businesses
It was revealed last week that an extension to the Northern Ireland Protocol grace period for chilled meats had been agreed upon.
But what does this mean for businesses exporting goods to Northern Ireland?
Here’s what you need to know.
What is the grace period for chilled meats?
As part of the Withdrawal Agreement and Northern Ireland Protocol, British businesses were given a grace period to prepare products in line with European Union (EU) food standards.
But the grace period was set to end on 30 June 2021, meaning businesses would have been prohibited to move chilled meats – such as sausages, chicken nuggets, mince, and pies – to Northern Ireland. This is because chilled meat products are generally not permitted for import from non-member states.
How long has the grace period been extended?
Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the grace period has now been extended until 30 September 2021 – giving British suppliers and UK regulators more time to align with EU standards, such as product-level labelling.
Crucially, the extension does not require rules in the rest of the UK to align with future changes in EU “agrifood rules”.
What has the Government said?
The Government said businesses will continue to be supported while permanent solutions are considered.
“This is a positive first step but we still need to agree a permanent solution – Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom and its consumers should be able to enjoy products they have bought from Great Britain for years,” said Cabinet Minister Lord Frost. He added: “The chilled meats issue is only one of a very large number of problems with the way the Protocol is currently operating, and solutions need to be found with the EU to ensure it 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.”