‘Medicines must be urgently removed from Northern Ireland Protocol’: Doug Beattie
Doug Beattie has called on the UK to “activate Article 16” if the EU continues to risk “destabilising the supply of medicines” into the region.
The Article 16 clause in the protocol allows for either the EU or the UK to act unilaterally if any aspects of the agreement are found to cause “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist”.
The UUP leader said: “It has become patently obvious that EU proposals to fix the debacle created by the protocol over the supply of medicines to Northern Ireland are not good enough. Time is running out fast and it needs fixed in double quick time.
“The best way round this is to immediately implement the UK Government’s proposal in its Command Paper and remove medicines from the protocol completely.”
Mr Beattie highlighted the warning from the British Generic Manufacturers Association that the EU’s plan to fix the problems won’t work, and added: “Pharmaceutical manufacturers in the Republic of Ireland say that the protocol could destabilise the supply of medicines there and yet the EU still seem determined to plough on at a snail`s pace with proposals which the pharmaceutical industry have warned them just won’t work.
“Northern Ireland can’t wait any longer. I would appeal to the EU to smooth the path for the immediate removal of medicines from the Protocol.
“If they refuse, then the UK Government has unequivocal grounds to take action and activate Article 16. Health should be prioritised over EU rules, the protocol and political stubbornness.
“I have raised this issue surrounding medicines with the EU and the UK Government as well as other political leaders over the last week as we continue to look for solutions to the protocol.”