Brexit talks go online after EU team member contracts Covid-19 – FT

  • Brexit talks are to switch to a virtual format after a member of the EU negotiating team became infected with Covid-19, with time running short for the two sides to finalise an agreement.
  • The talks are taking place in 11 different workstreams covering everything from energy-market co-ordination to fishing rights. The EU and UK negotiating teams are each made up of about 100 people, although some participate in meetings remotely.
  • Mr Barnier has pulled out of a planned debrief of national ambassadors scheduled for Friday, and will be replaced by one of his senior staff. A debriefing of members of the European Parliament has also been cancelled.
  • The rest of the treaty text (estimated at 1,800 pages) is largely drafted, even if negotiating chapters are not formally closed. The two sides are seeking to conclude a deal in time for it to be legally checked, translated and ratified by both sides before the end of the transition period, which could be difficult to complete if there were no deal by the end of next week.

Brexit: NI has ‘never held more medical supplies’ – BBC

  • Cathy Harrison was briefing the Stormont Health Committee on the sector’s preparations for Brexit and said a 12-month grace period had been agreed to allow suppliers to meet new requirements specific to Northern Ireland.
  • This would “vastly reduce” any feared disruption to the supply and availability of medicines and gives suppliers the time to “comply with the new regulatory requirements which apply only to Northern Ireland, and are a consequence of the Northern Ireland Protocol”.
  • A shortage response group chaired by the chief pharmaceutical officer meets weekly to monitor supply and the committee was told no shortages have been identified.