Northern Ireland: Brexit threatens food supplies


Empty shelves in a supermarket in Belfast. In Northern Ireland, consumers are already feeling the effects of Brexit a few days after the end of the transition phase.
Image: dpa

The exit of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland from the EU internal market is showing the first consequences. Some parts of Northern Ireland are experiencing shortages in the delivery of certain foods.

MSeveral British supermarket chains have warned of further food supply difficulties in Northern Ireland due to Brexit. In a letter to the Minister of State Michael Gove urged the bosses of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and others to extend an existing transitional arrangement with simplified controls beyond the first quarter. Otherwise there could be “significant disruptions” in the food supply in Northern Ireland, the letter said.

Great Britain had finally left the EU internal market and the European customs union at the turn of the year. Since then there have been increasing difficulties in trade due to customs regulations, regulations on food safety and VAT.

Northern Ireland in particular is badly affected. There have already been complaints there about empty supermarket shelves. The province is part of the United Kingdom, but according to the exit agreement it is treated according to the rules of the EU customs union and the internal market. This is to prevent a hard border with the EU member Republic of Ireland and a resurgence of the Northern Ireland conflict.

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