UK unilaterally extends Northern Ireland Protocol grace period by six months
The UK Government is postponing the full implementation of all controls and procedures until the 1st of October.
In his first meeting since being appointed minister for UK-EU relations, former Brexit negotiator Lord Frost informed EU Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic last Wednesday that the British government would extend NI Protocol grace period for a further six months for checks on agri-food products and parcels moving between GB and NI – an action that according to the EU breaches international law.
Grace Period Extension
Frost explained that such operational measures were “well precedented” and “entirely consistent with our intention to discharge our obligations under the protocol in good faith” and to provide more time for businesses such as supermarkets and parcel operators to adapt to and implement the new requirements in the Protocol.
Northern Ireland is part of the EU’s single market; and many businesses have been pressing for an extension to avoid empty shelves. Indeed, should the grace period have finished at the end of March as per protocol, supermarkets would have had to produce export health certificates for all shipments of animal products.
On parcel movements, the government has now published guidance on a “continued temporary arrangement” that states that customs declarations will continue to not be required for parcels send from GB to NI, with the exception being parcels containing prohibited, restricted and business-to-business goods worth over £135. Response from the EU As a result of the decision, the EU has responded by delaying the ratification of the trade deal and condemning the UK’s unilateral decision to extend the grace period describing it as "a violation" of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol, with the serious risk of undermining the mutual trust between the two parties.
On Twitter, Sefcovic said "I'll be speaking to Lord Frost tonight on the implementation of EU-UK agreements. I'll be raising our strong concerns on the respect of the IE/NI Protocol, following today's announcements".
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Sources: Gov.uk and The Financial Post