The European Commission has said it will assess a request from the UK to extend the grace period which has allowed chilled meats to enter Northern Ireland from Britain.

The UK has asked the Commission to extend the grace period until 30 September. The grace period was mutually agreed by the EU and UK in December and expires on 1 July.

It had been widely expected that the UK would unilaterally extend the chilled meats grace period, leading to further legal action from the European Commission.

Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, agrifood products crossing the Irish Sea are subject to checks and controls.

Chilled, non-frozen meat products, such as sausages, mince, pies and composite meals, are normally prohibited from entering the EU from third countries. Under a six-month grace period, the UK was permitted to continue sending chilled meats to Northern Ireland, under strict conditions.

In a statement tonight, the Commission confirmed it had received a request from the UK for the grace period to be extended.

"The Commission will now assess this request," the statement said.

The statement added that the Commission had been open to finding flexible solutions to issues surrounding the Protocol.

However, the UK would have to fully implement the Protocol in order for those solutions to be found.

"There is no solution to the Protocol," the statement said.