The Daily Telegraph

EU blamed for ‘despicable’ stance on NI kosher imports

- By Harry Yorke Whitehall editor

The EU’S failure to come forward with solutions to ensure Northern Ireland’s Jewish community can continue to receive British kosher food is “despicable”, Brandon Lewis has claimed.

With the UK continuing to push for a renegotiat­ion of the province’s postbrexit trading arrangemen­ts, the Northern Ireland Secretary said it was “fairly disgracefu­l” that solutions had not been found to address the community’s concerns. His interventi­on comes several months after Jewish leaders warned their traditions were under threat from the Northern Ireland Protocol, which requires the province to follow EU rules.

Under the protocol, British chilled meats are to be banned in Northern Ireland’s shops, a move that will also affect a number of Jewish products. There are also concerns that new paperwork requiremen­ts and customs controls on agrifoods at ports are putting off British producers from sending smaller volumes of product across the Irish Sea.

The EU has now agreed to a standstill arrangemen­t while the two sides discuss permanent solutions, meaning the chilled meats ban and a range of other checks are suspended indefinite­ly.

Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice president, has promised proposals but UK officials and ministers are frustrated at the lack of urgency.

Brussels has also warned it will not renegotiat­e the legal text of the protocol and reserves its rights to demand that additional red tape, currently suspended, be implemente­d.

Mr Lewis said: “To have the EU effectivel­y saying to the Jewish community, ‘you can’t source your products in your own country’, is a pretty despicable place to be.”

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