The ban was agreed to in 2019 as part of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Under bureaucratic red tape introduced as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, chilled meats are not allowed to be transported from Britain to Northern Ireland from the end of this month.
Ministers have lashed out at the EU’s administration of the Protocol, accusing the European Commission of being “purist” in its implementation of the new rules and damaging trade within the UK.
The Government took action in March to unilaterally extend the grace period on sanitary checks on retail food products crossing the Irish Sea.
The EU started legal action against Britain following the decision, accusing the Government of breaking an international treaty.
Now, ministers have asked for Brussels’s permission to extend the grace period on the ban on chilled meat shipments from June 30 until September.
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The request was confirmed by the European Commission who said they would now “assess” the UK’s submission.
In a statement, the Commission said it was willing to find solutions to ease problems caused by the Protocol but demanded the terms of the withdrawal agreement be implemented in full.
It said: “The European Commission received today a request from the United Kingdom to extend a grace period concerning the movement of chilled meats from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, agreed within the context of the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland.
“This grace period is due to expire on 30 June 2021. The UK has requested that it be extended to 30 September 2021. The Commission will now assess this request.
“The Commission has already indicated its openness to finding solutions in line with the Protocol.
“However, for that to happen, the UK must fully implement the Protocol, which is the solution found to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement, the functioning of the all-island economy, and the integrity of the EU’s Single Market.
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Their meeting broke up without a breakthrough on the issue and with officials in the UK pessimistic about securing a compromise on the Protocol.
Boris Johnson has warned he would be willing to rip up the Protocol if the EU failed to move on its position.
His official spokesman said last week “all options are on the table” to deal with frictions in trade.
Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol allows for the UK or EU to suspend the treaty if it causes “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade”.
Discussions on the Protocol dominated the G7 last weekend with Mr Johnson holding a number of bilateral meetings with EU leaders on the sidelines of the international summit.
Individually France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen all warned the Prime Minister to implement the terms of the deal.
Clearly frustrated the EU were failing to grasp the seriousness of the issues caused by the Protocol, the Prime Minister said in a media interview the EU needs to “get into their heads” that the UK is a single country.
His remarks are said to have been spurred by comments made in talks with Mr Macron when the French President suggested Northern Ireland was a different country to the rest of the UK.