Brussels publishes capitulation plans for hated Brexit deal – bloc ready to bend own rules

EU trying to ‘undo’ gains made in Brexit says Sammy Wilson

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In a “non paper” published today by the European Commission, eurocrats set out plans to ease restrictions on drugs between shipped from mainland Britain to the region. The offer is part of a package of concessions by the EU tabled in the hope of ending the row over the implementation of the Brexit deal’s protocol to avoid a hard border. It comes after warnings that about 2,000 medicines currently offered to patients in Northern Ireland could be withdrawn as drugs manufacturers grapple with EU red tape.

EU Brexit chief Maros Sefcovic said: “These solutions have an unambiguous common denominator – they were brought about with the core purpose of benefitting the people in Northern Ireland.

“Ultimately, our work is about ensuring that the hard-earned gains of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement – peace and stability in Northern Ireland – are protected, while avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland and maintaining the integrity of the EU Single Market.”

Under the post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, the region must essentially remain part of the EU’s regulatory system for medicines.

This means that drugs made in Great Britain for use in the area will have to be licensed separately as well as undergo safety inspections and other checks.

There is currently a grace period in place to give manufacturers, suppliers and the NHS time to prepare for the changes, but the measure expires in December.

The Commission has now set out proposals to tweak its own rules for imports of medicines into the bloc to stop potential shortages next year.

As part of a “proposed solution”, Brussels says many of the controls on medicines made in Great Britain for use in Northern Ireland will be allowed to be authorised in the UK.

“Regulatory compliance functions may exceptionally be located in UK (GB) in respect of medicines covered by any national authorisations issued by the UK authorities in respect of NI,” the Commission non paper states.

Eurocrats have slapped on several conditions that UK authorities must follow as the price for the concession.

These includes Downing Street signing up to “relevant Union legislation on medicines” and labelling the drugs to demonstrate they cannot be legally sold anywhere else in the EU.

Britain must also ramp up its “enhanced enforcement” in Northern Ireland to “prevent that the medicines concerned are further distributed in the EU Internal Market”.

The Commission sees this as a major concession in the row over the implementation of the Brexit divorce deal’s Northern Ireland Protocol.

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The paper states: “The proposed solution outlined in the above paragraphs will require legislative action on the EU side.

“The European Commission is working on a legislative proposal to that effect that will be sent to the Council and the European Parliament as soon as possible on the basis of a clear commitment from the UK to put in place the safeguards.”

Last week the Government called for “significant changes” to the post-Brexit border fix because the measures are “unsustainable”.

To avoid a hard border, Northern Ireland effectively remains in the EU’s single market, with checks on goods being shipped from the rest of the UK.

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This has sparked concerns in Unionist communities that an Irish Sea border has cut them off from mainland Britain.

But the EU has rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pitch to “work with the UK” to rewrite the protocol to eliminate the trading issues.

After a phone call with Mr Johnson, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The EU will continue to be creative and flexible within the protocol framework.

“But we will not renegotiate. We must jointly ensure stability and predictability in Northern Ireland.”

The EU has also published another non paper on its proposals to relax checks on guide and other types of assistance dogs crossing between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as the re-tagging of cattle, sheep and goats for similar movements.

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