Frost and Sefcovic to meet virtually to discuss proposals for agrifoods entering in Northern Ireland

Tue 15 Jun 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

Lord Frost, the minister for EU relations, and his European Commission counterpart Maros Sefcovic are to meet virtually this week to resume talks over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Negotiations to resolve trade friction in the region – including the introduction of new rules prohibiting chilled meats entering Northern Ireland on 1 July – failed last week, with tensions overspilling into the G7 summit over the weekend.

Mounting pressure

Following last week’s meeting between the pair, Sefcovic bemoaned a lack of progress and said EU patience was “wearing thin”, as covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update.

The EU has said that it has provided multiple solutions to easing friction in the region, particularly for goods subject to sanitary or phytosanitary (SPS) checks.

This included a proposal for a Swiss-style veterinary agreement, according to the Guardian, but the UK has so far refused to sign up to such a deal for fear that it could limit its ability to secure future trade agreements with other markets.

Colour-coded system

In presenting its case, the EU presented a colour-coded table indicating what checks and documentary requirements could be removed in the event of an agreement or kept if no such deal was reached.

The agreement proposed by the EU would remove all documentary and physical checks on red meat, poultry, mince, fish and dairy. Pets would also be able to travel between Great Britain and Northern Ireland with a pet passport.

Sausage powerhouse

Lord Frost has been called to answer “urgent questions” at the Northern Ireland affairs parliamentary committee on Wednesday.

Simon Hoare, the Tory MP who chairs the committee, has suggested Northern Ireland uses Brexit to transform itself into a meat processing powerhouse supplying both the UK and EU. 

“I think it is extraordinary given the agricultural productivity of Northern Ireland that it needs to import anything,” he is quoted as saying in the Telegraph.