Brexit negotiations take turn for the wurst as Britain threatens EU with sausage ban
Ban on bangers looms unless stalemate on food import standards is resolved
Brexit negotiators pushing to get a deal over the line before the end of the year are embroiled in a new stand-off that could result in European sausages disappearing from UK shops.
The prospect of a trade ban on Irish sausages and German bratwurst is the result of a row over EU regulations on uncooked prepared meat products. Under EU rules, products such as burgers and bangers “cannot be imported into the bloc unless they are frozen to minus 18C”, The Times reports.
Government sources told the paper that little progress had been made in efforts to persuade the EU to agree to a export health certificate for uncooked processed meats, despite the issue having been raised “early in the talks”.
Officials are now locked in last-minute talks to avoid a “two-way ban”, after Britain “signalled it will retaliate with a reciprocal ban on Irish exports to mainland UK, if a solution cannot be found”, The Telegraph says.
The Times points to “the delicious irony” of UK negotiators using “the EU’s own rules to exact revenge on European producers”. A Whitehall source said that “the government has committed to mirroring EU food safety legislation after we leave the bloc. That means if they ban it then we’ll ban it too.”
The dispute casts doubts over the sale of tens of millions of pounds worth of sausage meat and could be “particularly damaging to Ireland, for which Britain is a vital market”, the paper adds.
In 2018, Irish suppliers sent 335,000 tonnes of beef, pig, sheep and poultry meat worth a total of €1.3bn (£1.1m) to the UK, according to latest figures from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office.
Describing the threatened trade ban as “concerning”, the country’s Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue: “There’s going to be significant work then required in the weeks ahead as well to ensure that trade is as smooth and as efficient as possible on the first of January.”