On Wednesday, the European Commission said, it will place before Britain a package of measures aimed at easing the transit of goods to Northern Ireland.
The measures have been designed to ease customs controls, including the clearance of meat, dairy and other food products and the flow of medicines to Northern Ireland.
However, it has made it clear it will not open up for renegotiation the protocol governing Northern Ireland’s unique trading position.
The EU’s proposals will enable supermarkets to supply Northern Irish stores with sausages and other chilled meat products from Britain that are banned from entry into the European Union.
Although Northern Ireland continues to remain part of the United Kingdom, it has chosen to stay within EU’s single market which means its exports to the bloc does not face any customs checks, tariffs or paperwork.
According to Maros Sefcovic, the commission’s vice-president in charge of EU-UK relations, the arrangement allows Northern Irish businesses to enjoy the best of both worlds. As a result, this has created an effective customs border in the Irish Sea.
Under the commission’s plans, British sausages, for example, would be allowed into Northern Ireland as long as they were solely intended for Northern Irish consumers.
“That’s our proposal. We will put it on the table. If… this is rejected, then indeed we have a problem,” said Sefcovic in comments last week.
In a speech on Tuesday, British Brexit Minister David Frost said, Britain would be ready to discuss the EU’s proposals “whatever they say”, but demanded a new protocol outside of the EU’s legal jurisdictions.
The EU made it lucidly clear that only the EU’s top court can rule on its single market.
The issues of legal jurisdiction had not cropped up as an issue during Sefcovic visit to Northern Ireland last month.