EU Withdrawal Agreement

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:54 pm on 9th December 2020.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 12:54 pm, 9th December 2020

I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his questions—and indeed for the work of his Future Relationship with the European Union Committee, which has helped us as we have sought to resolve these issues—and his welcome is very welcome. On the detailed points he makes, we have been talking to traders, supermarkets in particular, to make sure that they are ready for any export health certificate requirements. We know that some supermarkets are already ready. One or two others need time in order to get ready, and they requested a grace period. Originally, those in the Commission argued that that would be impossible or, if it did exist, that it could only be a matter of weeks. We have managed to secure three months, which is sufficient time, we understand, to ensure that supermarkets are ready. On the chilled meat provision, it is the case that we have secured a six-month period during which there will be absolutely no change. Again, it was the case that there were some in the EU who argued that that should be a strictly non-renewable provision. We secured an approach that meant we could keep under review how things were operating in order to ensure that we provided people in Northern Ireland with access to the food they currently enjoy, without any disruption to the integrated supply chains that supermarkets have and which they will adjust.