Britain is duking it out with the European Union over rules regarding the exporting of chilled meat products. And, yes, this particular international dust-up is being called a “sausage fight” by some members of the press.
Back in January, when Brexit was formalized, it resulted in the UK being unable to export chilled meat products to the EU. Generally speaking, the EU doesn’t allow for the importing of such products from non-member countries.
And, while Northern Ireland is part of the UK, it’s under EU regulations regarding the importing of goods. This was part of a deal struck with the EU to keep a hard border from developing between Northern Ireland and Ireland, the latter of which remains part of the EU.
North Ireland observing EU laws for customs and importing means that there is something of a hard border between NI and the rest of the UK. Goods imported from Britain, like sausage, actually can’t enter NI under EU law. Back in January, the UK struck a deal with the EU to allow for a six-month grace period during which it could still export chilled meats to NI in spite of the laws. This was intended to give NI time to reconfigure its shipping to make up for the shortfall it was going to experience in its meat imports.
However, with the end of the grace period looming, the UK has announced plans to extend the grace period. The EU has drawn a line in the sand, however, saying such an extension is off the table. Now, the EU is warning the UK that it could pursue legal action should Britain insist on pushing the matter. The main sting in the threat is the possibility of a tariff being opposed on British goods in the EU, which could put a damper on the UK’s economy.
The European Commission has issued a statement regarding the issue, stating it has opened talks with the UK to resolve the problem. “When looking for solutions, providing stability and predictability for the people of Northern Ireland will be of paramount importance,” the Commission asserted in the statement.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic is said to be reaching out to Lord David Frost to find a resolution to the rising issue that both sides can agree on. As for now, the “sausage fight” is yet another example of the awkward problems the UK has encountered implementing Brexit in practice.