The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, has welcomed the announcement by the European Commission on the extension of the grace period for chilled meats, and a range of other important issues around the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Minister Coveney said:

“Today’s package of announcements strongly underlines the EU’s commitment to making the Protocol work for everyone in Northern Ireland.

“The EU has listened carefully to stakeholders on the ground and has delivered real and enduring solutions.

“I welcome that the EU has responded positively to the UK’s request for an extension to the grace period on chilled meats.

“This cooperative approach recognises that the Protocol is jointly owned and must be jointly implemented.

“The only sustainable solutions are those agreed together.

“Today’s announcement also ensures continued access to vital medicines in Northern Ireland, as well as addressing issues relating to motor insurance green cards, guide dogs and the movement of certain animals.”

Working towards ‘longer-term arrangements’

“The time ahead must now be used to work towards longer-term arrangements on broader SPS and veterinary issues,” added Coveney

“I have full confidence that with the EU, UK and Northern Ireland stakeholders working together, the Protocol will deliver stability, prosperity and unparalleled access for Northern Ireland to both the UK and EU Single Markets.”

Minister for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, also welcomed the move, saying:

“Earlier this week, vice-president Sefcovic said that the EU stood ready to take “bold steps” on the Protocol.

“Today’s announcement put those words into action.

“The Commission is using every flexibility possible and even committing to amend EU law.

“These decisions not only address the concerns of the business community, but the proposals on guide dogs and removing the requirement for UK drivers to hold an insurance green card when entering Ireland or the rest of the EU will make a real difference to people’s everyday lives.”