The European Union has agreed to extend the grace period allowing people and businesses in Northern Ireland to buy veterinary medicines from the rest of the UK for a further three years.
European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said it was a “practical solution to a practical problem”, while underlining the EU’s commitment to solving the broader problems surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly welcomed the announcement, which he said would provide “more certainty” for the veterinary medicines industry in Northern Ireland.
Under the terms of the Protocol, Northern Ireland will continue to be bound by EU rules on veterinary medicines, even though these no longer apply to the rest of the UK.
The grace period – which allowed her to continue shopping from the UK – should have ended at the end of the year. However, Mr Sefcovic said it will now run until December 2025.
It will also cover Cyprus and Malta.
“By extending the current regulations until December 2025, we are giving ourselves sufficient time to adapt,” Sefcovic said in a statement in Brussels.
“This is a practical solution to a practical problem and underscores our genuine commitment to work constructively with the UK to find agreed solutions around the Protocol.
“I therefore hope that we can transfer today’s positive announcement to other areas of our discussion. I believe there is an opportunity for a positive outcome to the benefit of the people and businesses of Northern Ireland.”
The DUP expressed relief at the extension but said grace periods were just a “sticking tape” solution to the broader problems with the protocol.
MP Carla Lockhart, the party’s environment spokeswoman, said: “This whack-a-mole approach has to stop.
“This agreement is only valid until 2025. The can was just kicked in the street.
“What we urgently need is for the EU and our government to find a new deal that addresses these intolerable restrictions on the flow of goods within the UK.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/eu-extends-northern-ireland-grace-period-for-animal-medicines-42231159.html EU extends Northern Ireland ‘grace period’ for veterinary medicines