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EU moves to ensure animal medicine supplies

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Current post-Brexit arrangements to ensure the continued availability of veterinary medicines in Northern Ireland are to be extended.

A “grace period” had been due to expire at the end of this year.

A group of MPs had warned this would mean a risk of shortages in veterinary drugs, including vaccines and anaesthetics for operations.

However, on Monday the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator confirmed the grace period will be extended to 2025.

Maros Sefcovic said the EU Commission had “taken steps to ensure the continuity of supplies of veterinary medicines to Northern Ireland, but also Cyprus, Ireland and Malta”.

It means businesses will be still able to buy medicines from within the UK.

  • What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

The protocol means Northern Ireland is still inside the EU’s pharmaceutical regulatory system.

However it gets most of its medicines from Great Britain, which is not.

Earlier this year, the EU changed its laws in an effort to help guarantee supplies of medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, but that arrangement did not cover veterinary medicines.

Mr Sefcovic said extending the grace period to the end of December 2025 was “a practical solution to a practical problem” and would allow “ample time to adapt”.

The UK’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the announcement brings greater clarity to the veterinary industry in Northern Ireland.

The president of the British Veterinary Association, Malcolm Morley, said the sector was delighted by the announcement.

“The extension of the grace period is extremely positive, and we welcome a solution which provides ample time to adapt for future compliance.
“Our thanks go to our BVA NI Branch officers, who all worked incredibly hard to help secure a positive resolution to this serious issue.”
Ulster Farmers’ Union president David Brown said work would continue to ensure the continuing supply of the full portfolio of veterinary medicines.
“The implications of achieving anything less will be hugely damaging for animal health and welfare in NI, and local food production at a time when we need to be sustaining and developing food security to meet the rising demand for food,” he said.
“Although the full detail of the extension is not yet known, the UFU will keep working on the matter, with the aim of securing a permanent solution.”
Angela McGowan, CBI Northern Ireland director, said:”UK and EU negotiators have shown pragmatism here, but the extended time must be well-spent in securing a lasting, practical solution to this problem.”

Source: British Broadcasting Corporation

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