The U.K. and the European Union are set to effectively extend the grace period during which certain food products can cross the border from Great Britain to Northern Ireland without checks, people familiar with the matter said.
Under the original Brexit deal struck with the EU by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the sale of chilled meats and fresh sausages into Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K. was going to be outlawed by the end of June. This extra time was given to let companies adapt to Brexit, but instead led to a confrontation, dubbed “sausage war.” The two sides defused tensions over the summer by extending the transition to the end of September. But now the new deadline is encroaching and there is still no resolution.
A fresh extension may be announced as soon as tomorrow, according to three people familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity discussing unannounced policy. They didn’t specify how long it would be for. Two of the people said that while the EU won’t formally agreed to the postponement, the bloc wouldn’t start infringement proceedings, effectively nodding it through to allow talks to continue.
The U.K. and EU are locked in discussions to try to resolve the issue, with Johnson’s government calling on the EU to rewrite a part of the Brexit deal that effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs area and much of the single market and means cargo coming from mainland Britain needs to be checked before or on entry to ensure it meets EU standards.
Separately, two people familiar with the matter said that European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and U.K. Brexit Minister David Frost will hold a call later this week.
— With assistance by Joe Mayes
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