EU Brexit chief Maros Sefcovic today announced a ceasefire in the sausage war after the government demanded that the blockade of British-made firecrackers sold in Northern Ireland be pushed back. The Brussels diplomat said he would meet with Brexit Minister Lord Frost in the hope of finding a long-term solution. But he refused to withdraw the threat of tariffs and quotas on British products if a deal is not reached, warning of a potential “downward spiral” in EU-UK relations.
In a speech to the College of Europe, Mr Sefcovic said: âI am convinced that there is still a window for productive political dialogue and positive results, especially in light of the fact that the UK contacts us about chilled meats.
“And so, I hope our British counterparts will use this window with vigor and perseverance.”
The two sides had engaged in a bitter war of words over the export of chilled meats, such as sausages and burgers, from Britain to Northern Ireland.
Under the EU’s harsh interpretation of the protocol to avoid a hard border, No10 must impose its blockade on British-made firecrackers sold in the region.
The government has called for the implementation of the embargo to be postponed until the end of September while a compromise is being discussed.
Whitehall officials fear the EU’s hard-line approach could spark violence in Northern Ireland, with the current grace period set to expire at the end of the month ahead of marching season.
Mr Sefcovic described Brussels as having reached a “crossroads” with the UK and said the bloc would not hesitate to take legal action if a compromise is not reached.
And he accused the PM of having “buyer’s remorse” over the terms signed in the 2019 Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
Either we work together, with the UK meeting its international obligations and committing in good faith. Or the UK continues to take unilateral action, âSefcovic added.
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Ministers remain pessimistic about a breakthrough in the sausage war with Brussels after asking last night for a postponement of new border controls.
Government insiders “are not holding their breath” that a solution can be found.