EU adopts legislation to ensure continued supply of medicines to NI from Britain

EU adopts legislation to ensure continued supply of medicines to NI from Britain

THE EUROPEAN Union has adopted legislation which will ensure the continued long-term supply of medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland and to address outstanding supply concerns in Ireland, Cyprus and Malta – markets that have been historically supplied through or by Great Britain.

Today's adoption follows last week's positive vote in the European Parliament. The proposals were put forward by the Commission last December, following its extensive engagement with citizens, industry and other business representatives in the EU and the UK, in addition to extensive talks with the UK government to find this long-lasting solution.

Welcoming this adoption, Vice-President Maros Šefčovič said:

"During my visit to Northern Ireland last autumn, I promised to do whatever it takes to ensure the continued supply of medicines to Northern Ireland. We now have a lasting solution, which was delivered in record time. I will continue to work closely with the UK government to ensure predictability, legal certainty, and the prosperity of all communities in Northern Ireland."

For Cyprus, Ireland and Malta, the rules endorsed by the European Parliament and the Council provide a temporary derogation so that they can continue to source medicines from the United Kingdom only if needed. The Directive and Regulation apply retroactively from 1 January 2022 and 31 January 2022 respectively.  It is expected that within three years, until 31 December 2024, these markets will gradually phase out the temporary derogations and decrease the dependency of their domestic markets on the supply with medicinal products from or through parts of the United Kingdom other than Northern Ireland.

In addition, at the end of this year, the Commission will make proposals to revise the EU's pharmaceutical legislation. These proposals will seek to provide longer-term structural solutions, in particular, to the issue of access to medicines, with special attention to enhancing security of supply and addressing risks of shortages in the smaller markets of the Union.

Sinn Féin Brexit spokesperson Declan Kearney has welcomed the European Commission's adoption of the vote in the European Parliament to ensure the north can continue to access medicines from Britain.

Mr Kearney said:

"I welcome today’s decision by the EU Council which will ensure that people in the north can continue to access health and medical supplies vital to helping people manage illness and lifelong conditions.

"This move underlines the EU's commitment to make the protocol work and for MEPs to look for solutions and approach issues in the spirit of goodwill.

"The moves by the EU today demonstrate its willingness to resolve outstanding issues. It shows that EU negotiators such as Maroš Šefčovič have remained true to their word and honoured commitments he made last year that they wanted to resolve checks pertaining to medicines."