The EU’s chief negotiator on Brexit has said the people of Northern Ireland should have access to all the medicines that they need.

Following the UK’s departure from the European Union under the terms of the contentious Northern Ireland Protocol, the North will fall within the EU’s pharmaceutical regulatory system.

An initial 12-month grace period was agreed to delay the introduction of the new arrangements until 2022.

Currently the vast majority of the North’s drugs supplies come from Britain, a trade route which has been disrupted by the terms of the protocol, sparking debate on the issue.

Speaking in Belfast on Friday, Maros Sefcovic said he will do “whatever it takes to resolve the situation”.

He said he takes the issue of the supply of medicines “very personally especially in these post-Covid times”.

On Thursday, Sinn Féin and the Ulster Unionist Party said Mr Sefcovic had given a firm assurance to resolve the medicines issue.

On Friday, he said: “It’s quite clear that the people in Northern Ireland should have access to all medicines they need, generics, cancer treatment, any medicine they need, and I will do whatever it takes to resolve the situation.

“I believe we will have constructive engagement with our UK partners on this and we want to make sure the medicine will be available as they are right now, and that no hurdles will be created.”