Northern Ireland: EU accommodates Great Britain

On 13 October, the European Commission proposed further arrangements to respond to possible difficulties in the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. In this document, the Commission continues to express its willingness to hold intensive talks with the British government in order to find a mutually agreed permanent solution as soon as possible.

The latest package now provides for further flexibility in the areas of food, plant and animal health, customs, pharmaceuticals and cooperation with Northern Ireland stakeholders. In the area of pharmaceuticals, for example, the following is provided for:

Manufacturers based in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales) who supply medicines to Northern Ireland will be able to continue to keep regulatory compliance functions and testing facilities in the UK and will not be required to relocate them to Northern Ireland or the EU. The prerequisite is that these medicines have a national UK marketing authorisation (i.e. including Northern Ireland). Resale to the EU would not be possible. The aim is to ensure the long-term supply of medicines to the people of Northern Ireland. In return, the EU Commission demands a guarantee for the permanent application of EU pharmaceutical law in important areas of quality assurance (like for example safety features) and pharmacovigilance.

This is laid down in a new so-called non-paper, which replaces the document from July. Whether this will be accepted by the British government remains to be seen.