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In trade row, UK asks EU to delay post Brexit ‘sausage ban’

June 17, 2021 GMT

LONDON (AP) — The European Union said Thursday that Britain has asked for a three-month delay in bringing in some post-Brexit trade checks that are causing tension between the two sides, and instability in Northern Ireland.

The EU’s executive Commission said the U.K. was seeking a delay until Sept. 30 on rules banning chilled meats such as sausages from England, Scotland and Wales from going to Northern Ireland. The regulation is due to take effect at the end of June.

The EU said it would “assess” the request. In a statement, it said the bloc’s chief Brexit official, Maroš Šefčovič, would try to meet British counterpart David Frost “as soon as possible to discuss this request in detail.”

Britain and the EU are in a spat over post-Brexit trade arrangements for Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that borders the 27-nation bloc.

The divorce deal agreed by both sides means customs and border checks must be conducted on some goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. The regulations are intended to keep an open border on the island of Ireland, a key pillar of Northern Ireland’s peace process.

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But they have angered Northern Ireland’s British unionists, who say they amount to a border in the Irish Sea and weaken ties with the rest of the U.K.

Britain has unilaterally delayed implementing some of the checks, drawing the threat of legal action from the EU. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested he might also delay bringing in the sausage ban.

Britain accuses the EU of taking a “purist” approach to the rules and causing unnecessary red tape for businesses.

The two sides have been holding talks in an attempt to resolve the dispute but Frost said Wednesday that “we’re not having much progress.”

U.S. President Joe Biden has even been drawn into the spat, raising concerns about the potential threat to Northern Ireland’s peace accord.