EU set to move to ensure medicines continue to flow between GB and NI

·2-min read
EC vice president Maros Sefcovic is expected to make an announcement on medicines on Friday (Hollie Adams/PA) (PA Wire)
EC vice president Maros Sefcovic is expected to make an announcement on medicines on Friday (Hollie Adams/PA) (PA Wire)

The European Union is set to announce proposals to ensure medicines can continue to flow unimpeded from Great Britain into Northern Ireland

European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic is expected to announce proposed new legislation on Friday.

The UK’s Brexit Minister Lord Frost is understood to be aware of the development and is also expected to make a statement.

The issues surrounding medicines stem from the outworkings of the Northern Ireland Protocol a part of the Brexit deal which means Northern Ireland remains covered by the EU’s pharmaceutical regulations.

As Northern Ireland receives most of its medicines from suppliers in Great Britain, there had been concerns that their movement could be impeded when a grace period ends in January.

However, the anticipated EU announcement would include a proposal to pass legislation that will enable the trade of medicines between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to continue.

We believe the proposals solve all the issues that were raised about medicines

A Brussels source said: “We believe the proposals solve all the issues that were raised about medicines.”

Any new legislation would be subject to ratification by both the European Council and the European Parliament.

Mr Sefcovic and Lord Frost are expected to speak by phone ahead of the announcement.

Lord Frost is expected to speak with Maros Sefcovic on Friday (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)
Lord Frost is expected to speak with Maros Sefcovic on Friday (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

It is understood Lord Frost has asked to meet with Northern Ireland’s political parties on Friday, with party leaders anticipating a briefing on the development.

It is not expected that there will be a resolution to any other subjects, but there may be an indication from both sides on an approach to dealing with outstanding issues such as customs and food and plant and animal checks in the new year.

The proposed EU law change would allow GB-based pharma suppliers to maintain their current regulatory arrangements.

It would mean companies in GB could continue to act as a hub for the supply of generic medicines to Northern Ireland, without the need to establish bases in the region.

The proposals would also apply to other small markets which use British medicines, including the Irish Republic, Malta and Cyprus.

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