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Ireland’s European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness has said the UK’s request for an extension of the chilled meats grace period provides an opportunity for “calm and common sense”.  

In a speech to the British Irish Chamber of Commerce yesterday, McGuinness said there was “positive movement” on the Northern Irish Protocol, with the UK having said it was open to discussions. The UK request was being given “careful consideration” by the European Commission, she added.

However, she has warned the UK not to roll back food and safety standards as it looks to sign trade deals around the world, the Irish Independent reports.

Urgent meeting

Exports of chilled meats from GB to NI will be banned from the end of this month, the BBC reports. The European Commission has asked the UK for an urgent meeting to discuss the request.

Northern Ireland must follow EU health and safety guidelines as it remains within the single market and customs union as part of the Brexit Withdrawal deal.

According to City AM, McGuinness’s statement is at odds with comments made by the UK Brexit minister Lord Frost, who said last week that there had been “little progress” in talks with his European counterpart Maros Sefcovic, to resolve problems of implementing the NI Protocol.

No progress on equivalence

McGuinness was less optimistic on the issue of the European Commission granting equivalence to allow UK financial services companies greater access to European markets. She said “we’re still not yet at the place where we will sit down and look at” equivalence decisions.

The Brexit deal did not cover services and the UK has been trying to negotiate a deal that would see the UK and EU recognise each other’s financial regulations.

However, as reported in the IOE&IT Daily Update bulletin, progress has been slow, resulting in some observers suggesting that the UK should focus on Asia and other emerging markets.