Brexit talks on NI medicine supplies expected to continue into the new year

Brexit talks on NI medicine supplies expected to continue into the new year

UK sources says there has been no breakthrough on EU-UK talks to reach agreement on medicine supply for Northern Ireland, with negotiations now expected to continue into the new year.

The recent talks between the UK and EU focused on how to guarantee the supply of medicines from GB to Northern Ireland, with issues surrounding the effects of the Northern Ireland Protocol, a part of the Brexit deal which means Northern Ireland remains covered by the EU’s pharmaceutical regulations.

The Northern Ireland Protocol was agreed by the UK and EU in 2019 as a way to avoid a hardening of the Irish land border.

Goods can flow freely between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, but goods arriving from the rest of the UK are subject to controls to ensure they comply with EU standards.

As Northern Ireland receives most of its medicines from suppliers in Great Britain, pharmacies could face difficulties in supply when a grace period on the changes ends in January.

Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister has said Brussels is “anxious” to move ahead unilaterally by changing its laws if the UK does not agree an approach.

Meanwhile, goods exported from Ireland to Great Britain will be temporarily exempted from new border controls on EU-GB trade, which take effect on 1 January.

The government said the move was a “pragmatic act of goodwill” which can help maintain space for continued negotiations on the NI Protocol.

Lord Frost said those negotiations would not be definitively completed by 1 January.