Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal is set to create a shortage of veterinary medicines for sick animals in Northern Ireland, a parliamentary committee has warned.
ver half of veterinary medicines used here are expected to become unavailable when the Northern Ireland Protocol agreed by the UK and EU comes into full force at the end of the year.
The EU has so far extended grace periods on the medicines to allow them to be used here until the end of 2022 – but supply chains are yet to adjust and MPs and ministers say they are extremely concerned.
Drugs affected are expected to include those for cardiovascular conditions, anesthetics and vaccines, including those that prevent salmonella and E. coli.
An official report released by the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee this week says MPs have written to the Government “expressing our profound concerns about the impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol on the availability of veterinary medicines in Northern Ireland”.
“While grace periods are currently in place, the full application of the new rules to NI would leave potentially half of all veterinary medicines for a variety of animals and livestock facing discontinuation in NI,” the MPs say.
MPs on the scrutiny committee said: “The EU’s readiness to amend its rules on human medicines to take into account supply chains between GB and Northern Ireland—as well as Cyprus, Ireland and Malta— but not to amend its rules on veterinary medicines is frustrating .
“This is particularly so given the relatively small and fragmented nature of the veterinary medicines market, leaving Northern Ireland highly vulnerable to a significant reduction in the availability of veterinary medicines, with consequent implications for animal health and welfare.”
Earlier the month Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots said the situation was “most disconcerting”.
“The discontinuation of vaccines in NI would have severe repercussions for animal health and welfare here and give rise to unnecessary animal suffering, not to mention the risk it would present to human health and trade,” he said.
Meanwhile, a House of Lords report has found that the protocol has created a “feast or famine” economy here, with some businesses struggling while others thrive, a parliamentary report has found.
Peers found that companies involved in trade with the rest of the UK were being hampered by added red tape whereas those more reliant on doing business with Ireland and the wider EU were benefiting.
While businesses involved in moving GB goods into the region have been hit by added bureaucracy, those Northern Ireland businesses involved in selling into the EU can do so without restriction, giving them a potential advantage over competitors in the rest of the UK.
Lord Jay of Ewelme, who chairs the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland Committee, said: “The committee’s engagement with businesses trading in and with Northern Ireland has demonstrated that, while much uncertainty remains, the economic impact of the protocol is gradually becoming clearer.
“The situation was described to us as ‘feast or famine’, whereby businesses able to take advantage of the protocol benefit, while those dependent on trade with Great Britain lose out.”
Peers said there remained a concern that businesses in GB will ultimately decided to withdraw from the Northern Ireland market.