The Daily Telegraph

Border checks on EU goods delayed until mid-2022

- By Harry Yorke Whitehall editor

BORIS JOHNSON has been accused of boosting Britain’s European competitor­s as the Government yesterday confirmed new border checks will not be fully implemente­d until mid-2022.

British exporters last night hit out at ministers after Lord Frost announced the deadline for implementi­ng checks on EU agrifoods and products of animal origin entering the UK from the bloc would be delayed again.

It is the second delay to the new border regime, which was also pushed back by six months in March, despite UK exporters to the EU being affected by post-brexit red tape from January.

The decision was taken after businesses reliant on European imports said red tape would exacerbate the supply chain crisis in the run-up to Christmas.

But it also means EU firms will enjoy a lighter-touch customs regime up to 18 months after the UK left the bloc, which critics argue will prolong the “competitiv­e disadvanta­ge” faced by their British competitor­s exporting the other way.

In a statement, Lord Frost said the Government had been “on track” to have the infrastruc­ture and personnel ready at ports and border posts, but argued the move was necessary to ease pressure on businesses.

“The pandemic has had longerlast­ing impacts on businesses, both in the UK and in the EU, than many observers expected in March,” he said.

“There are also pressures on global supply chains, caused by a wide range of factors including the pandemic and the increased costs of global freight transport. These pressures are being especially felt in the agrifood sector.”

Additional paperwork requiremen­ts for EU agrifood imports, due to commence in three weeks’ time, will be pushed back to January next year, while new export certificat­es will be pushed back further until July. The full raft of physical checks on EU agrifoods, due in January, will also be pushed back to July, although some customs controls and checks will be implemente­d as planned.

Minette Batters, of the National Farmers’ Union, said the delay would do little to address the “long-term trade frictions farmers are experienci­ng. Negotiator­s must seek to achieve a level playing field with equitable checks on imports and exports as quickly as possible.”

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