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Belfast crane Northern Ireland

The EU will offer to cut the majority of checks on British goods moving into Northern Ireland in its latest bid to resolve concerns over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The proposals come in response to the UK’s demands for a radical rewrite of the protocol agreed last year to avoid a return of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said it was a “major intervention” by Brussels to try and ease the tensions between the two sides.

As it stands, all goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland must comply with EU customs rules. This means food and drink is currently subject to customs and regulatory checks when crossing the Irish Sea.

These checks could fall dramatically under the new proposals, while the ban on chilled meat entering the country would end completely.

“Meats, whether they’re chilled meats or other food stuffs, can come into Northern Ireland and if they’re staying in Northern Ireland then the checks that are currently required will not be required,” said Coveney.

The EU will propose to reverse the principle that goods are at risk of entering the single market unless proved otherwise, and end charging customs duties for products labelled for use in Northern Ireland.

The proposals were cautiously welcomed by Northern Irish trade groups. “A lot of what is coming out this evening is indeed very close to what the NI Business Brexit Working Group has been asking for,” said Aodhan Connoly of the Northern Ireland Business Brexit Working Group.

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