Time is short to fix Brexit row in Northern Ireland

3 minutes

LONDON, June 9 - North Ireland will tell the European Union on Wednesday that they are running out to find solutions to ease their post-Brexit trade with Britain, saying any further legal action by the bloc would not make life any easier for those in the country.

Since completing its exit from the EU late last year, northern Ireland's relations with it have soured, with both sides accusing each other of acting in bad faith over part of their trade deal that covers goods movements to Britain.

The row, dubbed the sausage war by British media because it centres on the movement of chilled meats from Northern Ireland to Britain, could cloud a weekend meeting of the world's seven largest advanced economies at a seaside village in South-West England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants the summit to showcase what he calls global Britain but he could receive a warning from US President Joe Biden, who, according to the Times newspaper, will tell London not to renege on the deal.

In the latest round of talks, UK Brexit Minister Maros Sefcovic, who will also attend the summit, meets European Commission Vice President David Frost in London to try to resolve the differences over the Northern Ireland protocol.

So far, the talks have made little headway and officials were optimistic about the possibility of a breakthrough.

When I meet Maros Sefcovic later today, my message will be clear: time is short and practical solutions are needed now to make the protocol work, Frost said in a statement, calling for flexibility to find solutions that enjoy the confidence of all communities.

Further threats of legal action from the EU and trade retaliation won't make life any easier for the Strabane shoppers who can't buy their favourite product.

Sefcovic wrote an article on Tuesday in the Telegraph newspaper, warning Britain that the EU would not be shy in reacting if it considered Britain was breaching its legal obligations.

Preserving the delicate peace in Northern Ireland without allowing the Union into the single market through the 310 mile Irish border was one of the problematic topics of Brexit divorces.

The solution formed the Northern Ireland protocol, which saw the province essentially remaining in the EC customs union and having to adhere to many of the rules of its one market while the rest of Britain left both.

Brussels accuses London of breaking the agreement by failing to implement checks on some goods moving from Northern Ireland to its province of Britain, and has started legal action over the unilateral extension of a grace period by the British government.

London says it has no choice after some of the checks hamper to Northern Irish supermarkets supplies. It has also pointed to rising tensions among pro-Britaini unionists in the province who say the Brexit deal undermined a peace agreement signed in 1998.

London and Brussels say they want to find solutions but accuse each other of not engaging with various competing proposals.

We've put together some solutions to the EU, housing minister Robert Jenrick told Sky News, saying it can't be right that sausages can't travel from Bangor in Northern Ireland to Bangor in Wales! We have to be able to find this out.

The grace period on some goods ends on June 30. Johnson's spokesman announced on Tuesday that there was no case whatsoever for preventing chilled meat from being sold in Northern Ireland.

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