Action required now on veterinary medicines and negotiations - Empey

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Action required now on veterinary medicines and negotiations - Empey

“The Windsor Framework Committee in the House of Lords reported today following its investigation into the supply of veterinary medicines to Northern Ireland.

“This has arisen because the Windsor Framework, agreed between the UK and the EU, while it makes provision for the ongoing supply of human medicines, does not cover veterinary medicines.

“Under a deal with the EU, a grace period has been agreed during which the EU will not insist on its regulations covering these medicines being implemented. This grace period ends in December 2025, after which the EU expects all veterinary medicines to comply with EU rules.

“However, there is a big difference between the UK and the EU on the purpose of this grace period. The UK sees it as a time to negotiate with the EU to ensure the continuation of supply, while the EU sees it as a time to allow the UK to fully comply with EU regulations.

“So far as I am aware, no negotiations have taken place between the UK and the EU to resolve what has the potential to be a serious situation, not only for Northern Ireland’s farmers but also for the owners of horses, breeding bulls and so many of us who have companion animals (pets) in our homes.

“This is unsatisfactory. The time may seem generous but given that the EU will be having Parliamentary elections in June and a new EU Commission not being appointed until November combined with a UK General Election which could be taking place in the Autumn, the actual time for negotiation is short. Furthermore, the lead-in time for manufacturers and their supply chains is nearly past in some cases as witnesses told the Committee.

“The lessons to take from this report are that the Government needs to get its act together and immediately start negotiation with the EU BEFORE the EU elections in June. It is also crystal clear that those who argued that the border in the Irish Sea has been effectively removed are totally wrong. Everything about this report demonstrates that Northern Ireland is in receipt of and required to implement policies and regulations drawn up by Brussels and to which neither the NI Assembly nor Westminster Parliament have any access or control. Northern Ireland is required to implement laws drawn up by a third party outside the UK.

“I sincerely hope that the smoke and mirrors surrounding the recent deal between the Government and the DUP do not distract us from engaging via the NI Executive, the Assembly and Westminster to resolve these issues which are pivotal to the ongoing success and development of our Agriculture sector which plays such a vital economic and social role for the people of Northern Ireland.”