The United Kingdom has formally requested an extension of three months to resolve the nasty Brexit dispute with Brussels over sausage sales in Northern Ireland.
It comes as the UK reveals plans to ensure EU nationals’ voting rights in municipal elections. Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, has written to the EU, requesting that the grace period for the sale of sausages made in the United Kingdom in Northern Ireland supermarkets be extended until September 30.
The EU had agreed to phase in required checks on fresh food over six months as part of the Brexit agreement negotiated in December. An absolute ban on chilled meats, dubbed “bonkers” by the UK, was set to take effect at the end of this month.
An extension, Frost told a select committee earlier this week, would provide additional “breathing space” in the escalating row, which threatened to jeopardize wider international connections, including those with US Vice President Joe Biden.
The EU stated that it had received the request for a grace period extension and that it would evaluate it. “Providing stability and certainty for the people of Northern Ireland will be of utmost significance when seeking solutions,” a spokeswoman added.
According to the statement, European Commission Vice-President Maro efovi will reach out to Lord Frost and his colleagues as soon as possible to arrange up a meeting to discuss this request in detail.” The European Parliament and the [European] Council will also be consulted by the commission.
Separately, the government announced on Thursday that EU residents who come to the UK to live and work after Brexit will be able to vote in local elections if reciprocal agreements are reached in their home countries.
It also reaffirmed that an estimated 5 million persons who have been in the country for five years and have been granted settled status, as well as those who have been in the country for less than five years and have been granted pre-settled status, will be able to vote and run in municipal elections.
Reciprocal agreements have already been reached with Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, and Poland, allowing British citizens living there to vote in local elections.