Britain has warned a "sausage war," with Brexit minister David Frost pleading with the EU for "flexibility" ahead of a ban on chilled meat exports from the UK mainland.
Despite EU warnings that unilaterally extending the "grace period" for products like sausages, mince, and chicken nuggets at the end of June would trigger tariffs or quotas on British goods under the parameters negotiated, reports suggest the UK government is poised to do so.
If the UK tries to backtrack on its duties under the Northern Ireland Protocol in the Brexit agreement, EU vice president Maros Sefcovic warned this week that the EU would act "swiftly, decisively, and forcefully."
However, Frost has stated that time is running out to develop the "practical solutions" required to make the protocol work as intended.
He said the preservation of the Northern Ireland peace process must be the “overriding priority” for both parties, and he urged the EU to show the “flexibility” needed to produce results that “enjoy the confidence of all communities.”
“Businesses in Great Britain are choosing not to sell their goods into Northern Ireland because of burdensome paperwork, medicine manufacturers are threatening to cut vital supplies, and chilled meats from British farmers destined for the Northern Ireland market are at risk of being banned entirely,” he said.
“Further threats of legal action and trade retaliation from the EU won’t make life any easier for the shopper in Strabane who can’t buy their favourite product. Nor will it benefit the small business in Ballymena struggling to source produce from their supplier in Birmingham.
“What is needed is pragmatism and common sense solutions to resolve the issues as they are before us. This work is important. And it is ever more urgent."
“Any ban would be contrary to the aims of the protocol and the interests of the people of Northern Ireland,” the spokesman said.