medicines northern ireland protocol
Customs officials check the first freight trucks as they disembark from the European Causeway ferry at the port of Larne on January 1, 2021 in Larne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a proposal from Brussels to ensure the continued supply of medicines from Britain to Northern Ireland – an issue that had dogged the bloc since London left it.

“Great news from the @Europarl_EN today with the overwhelmingly positive vote to ensure the continued supply of medicines to Northern Ireland,” tweeted Maros Sefcovic, European Commission vice president who had been leading discussions with London.

“The EU is delivering on this lasting solution for Northern Ireland in record time,” he added, though the EU Council must give final approval.

Britain itself has yet to give formal approval on a move that would avoid potential disruption of supplies as London wants an overall accord for matters pertaining to the Northern Ireland protocol governing post-Brexit trade.

EU lawmakers voted 547 to zero with four abstentions in favor of the proposal which also requires the agreement of the bloc’s 27 member states.

Brexit saw the bestowing of a special status on Northern Ireland, in that it remains effectively, unlike the rest of the UK, in the EU Single Market and the EU customs union to avoid a return to a physical border with EU member the Republic of Ireland.

There had been widespread fears that that could weaken the peace accord of 1998 that brought an end to decades of sectarian unrest in Northern Ireland.

The issue of how to deal with the fact Northern Ireland has the only UK land border with the European Union has been a major stumbling block in the entire Brexit process since the 2016 referendum.

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