On the 28 December 2022 the European Commission published an agreement outlining the extension to the current arrangement on the movement of veterinary medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Ireland and Malta. In short, the agreement ensures the continuity of supplies of veterinary products to NI, and it means that medicines can continue to be sourced from GB. The grace period has been extended to 31 December 2025.
The announcement represents a significant success for the lobbying efforts of UFU and BAB over the past 12 months and provides temporary relief for industry in Northern Ireland who risked losing access to up to 51% of medicines.
Whilst the agreement has been welcomed by the veterinary and agriculture industries, the Commission has made it clear that a further extension to the grace period will not be contemplated. In addition to this, the agreement stipulates an action plan that will require competent authorities to comply with the following:
- Identify the veterinary medicine products at risk and submit these in a list to the Commission by 28 February 2023.
- Provide information about the measures taken to ensure supplies of veterinary medicine products comply with EU rules by 30 September 2023.
- Submit progress reports to the Commission on the implementation of the measures by 31 January 2024, and thereafter every three months.
What is next?
The announcement from the European Commission has been welcomed by industry across the UK, with additional time to adapt. However, with the grace period already underway it is clear that a workable, permanent agreement is required between the EU and the UK to ensure that Northern Ireland can retain access to essential veterinary medicines.
You can read the European Commission agreement here.