Britain to delay some post-Brexit border controls for six months
Brexit controls on food and animal products that were due to start in January will be postponed until July because of the potential impact on businesses, the government has said.
It is also delaying paperwork required from 1 October for imports of food and animal products including dairy, eggs, honey, lasagne and pizza.
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said a postponement would give European exporters a commercial advantage – but the government decided it had no choice because of “pressures on global supply chains”.
In a written statement, Penny Mordaunt, the paymaster general, said: “The pandemic has had longerlasting impacts on businesses, both in the UK and in the EU, than many observers expected in March. 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.
“In these circumstances, the government has decided to delay further some elements of the new controls, especially those relating to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) goods.”
It means Britain has been given a de facto transition period to bed in the controls agreed with the EU.
Yesterday’s announcement confirmed that “pre-notification of agrifood imports” to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, due to be in force from 1 October, would be put back to January.
New requirements for export health certificates also due on 1 October would be delayed by nine months, while the SPS checks due on 1 January would be delayed by six months.
Business leaders and the NFU said delaying the new trade barriers would not solve the food shortages caused by a chronic lack of lorry drivers.
There is concern in Brussels at what some say is a belligerent tone from the EU relations minister, David Frost, over Northern Ireland.
Maroš Šefčovič, the European commissioner overseeing Brexit issues, told MEPs in a private meeting that the EU would present new proposals as part of a “substantial package”.