The EU is offering what it describes as a “bespoke Northern Ireland-specific solution” on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules.

It would see an 80% reduction in spot checks that would have been required on retail goods arriving in Northern Ireland if the original protocol was implemented in full.

The requirement to submit documentary information online ahead of shipping the goods will remain, but the EU said it envisages an 80% reduction in both identity checks on lorries arriving at ports and the more intensive physical inspections of their contents.

The EU is also proposing a significant reduction in certification requirements on multi-product consignments.

Under the protocol, lorries bringing agri-food products into the region are required to have vet-approved export-health certificates for each different product line on the vehicle.

A grace period exemption means this requirement has yet to be applied.

The EU is proposing that instead of certificates for all products, which could potentially amount to 100-plus per lorry, each vehicle would instead only need one all-encompassing certificate.

This measure would cover retail SPS goods bound for use by consumers in Northern Ireland.

The European Commission is also proposing relaxing laws that would have seen some “high-risk” GB produce, such as chilled meats, being banned from export into Northern Ireland.

Again this prohibition has yet to come into effect as it is covered by an ongoing period.

The EU said it will allow the movement of these products in the long term if the UK can demonstrate there is an issue sourcing supplies from within Northern Ireland.

That would allow the continued import of British produce such as Cumberland sausages.

Added certification requirements would be applied on certain high-risk produce entering Northern Ireland.

The EU proposals on SPS goods apply to products that originate in Great Britain.

In return for the concessions on agri-food rules, the EU is asking for added safeguards to ensure products remain within Northern Ireland and do not end up in the Irish Republic.

Those include labelling, so certain items are clearly identified as being for sale in UK/NI only.

The bloc says the light-touch arrangement will only work if the UK follows through with unfulfilled commitments to build new border control posts in Northern Ireland and give the EU real-time access to trade-flow data.

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