UK-made medicines ready to go to N Ireland

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UK-made medicines ready to go to N Ireland
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The EU adopted rules allowing medicines made in Britain to go to Northern Ireland, creating an exception to a post-Brexit treaty that requires goods sent to the UK province to be EU-compliant.

The move is an effort to dampen Brussels-London tensions over Northern Ireland, which remains under the EU customs system under the terms of a protocol in the treaty that came into force last year.

“The (EU) Council today adopted a directive and a regulation to ensure continued supply of medicines to Northern Ireland, and to Cyprus, Ireland and Malta,” the institution representing the bloc’s member countries said in a statement.

The adopted EU directive will apply retroactively from the start of this year.

It drops the need for medicine from the rest of the United Kingdom going to Northern Ireland to get EU import authorisation first, “provided that certain conditions are fulfilled”.


It adds that UK authorities “should be able to supply those medicinal products to patients in Northern Ireland temporarily and until a marketing authorisation is granted or refused in the Union”.

The change is permanent for Northern Ireland, reflecting its unique status as UK territory located on the island of Ireland, where no hard border exists.

In the case of Cyprus, Ireland and Malta — EU countries with historic ties to Britain and which import large amounts of UK medicines — the suspension will run for three years, to give time for new supply chains to be built.

Since signing the post-Brexit treaty with the EU, Britain has chafed at its obligation to meet EU customs rules in Northern Ireland.

London has delayed steps needed to take to meet them, and has repeatedly threatened to invoke an Article 16 in the protocol which would trigger further negotiations over its implementation.

Both Brussels and London say their respective stances on the treaty are meant to uphold the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that put an end to decades of violence in Northern Ireland.


Britain itself has yet to give formal approval to the move on medicines. It wants an overall rewriting of the accord for matters pertaining to the Northern Ireland protocol.



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