Europe

Northern Ireland farmers hit out at STRICT EU regulations warning UK trade will be harmed

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Farmers in the country have stated their concerns for trade following the end of the transition period. Earlier this month, the EU and UK agreed to remove certain elements of the Internal Market Bill which violated parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol within the Withdrawal Agreement. Despite clearing that legislative hurdle, farmers in Northern Ireland are concerned over how the protocol will impact business.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, President of the Ulster Farmers Union, Victor Chestnutt said: “We are concerned the protocol was designed to create flow, but that some of the EU regulations if there’s no flexibility allowed or if they’re enforced to the letter of the law, will change how we trade.

“Because we’re in an EU regulatory zone, unless there’s flexibility applied, it will change trade flows.”

The protocol was designed in order to stop the imposition of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

It maintains Northern Ireland’s position within the UK customs territory, with checks being applied for products moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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However, in order to stop the creation of a border and violate the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland will adhere to certain EU single market rules.

Despite the maintenance of the peace process, Mr Chestnutt stated his desire for Northern Ireland to be treated as part of the UK rather than “have to fulfil full EU rules”.

Due to the uncertainty surrounding trade, he also called for the two sides to implement a period of flexibility.

He added: “We would like a longer flexibility period, supermarkets have got flexibility for their products.

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“We’re buying in the on January 1 and we still don’t know whether we’ll have a deal or not.

“We’re facing changes to SPS control with basically no flexibility.

“We had thought the protocol would give us flexibility on trade but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“Farmers aren’t getting any peace of mind as currently we’re being treated as if we’re a part of mainland Europe.”

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The Northern Ireland Protocol sparked controversy on the continent over its implications relating to state aid.

In the withdrawal agreement, the UK and EU agreed on certain customs regulations while also placing Northern Ireland in Europe’s state subsidy scheme.

After a meeting with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, the UK agreed to drop certain parts of the Internal Market Bill.

Following this, Cabinet Office Minister, Michael Gove stated there was now an easier path to a Brexit deal.

A joint statement said: “Following intensive and constructive work over the past weeks by the EU and the UK, the two co-chairs can now announce their agreement in principle on all issues, in particular with regard to the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“An agreement in principle has been found in the following areas, amongst others: border control posts/entry points specifically for checks on animals, plants and derived products, export declarations, the supply of medicines, the supply of chilled meats, and other food products to supermarkets, and a clarification on the application of State aid under the terms of the Protocol.”

Mr Gove later admitted: “There will be some necessary checks on food and products of animal origin as they go into Northern Ireland.

“But these are checks which reflect the fact the whole island of Ireland has always been treated as a single zone for animal health.”

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