The UK government on Wednesday exposed proposals introduce full customs checks on goods entering Britain from the EU by the end of October 2024, more than three and a half years later than originally planned.

While the new rules are required by Britain’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU, their introduction has been repeatedly delayed since the UK officially withdrew from the block on January 31, 2020, and ministers feared that they could create unacceptable delays at Channel ports and other points of entry.

The proposals announced on Wednesday were designed to address these concerns, with simplified plans including carrying out checks outside ports to avoid causing disruption, and the launch of a trusted trader pilot scheme to streamline processes and allow regular importers to avoid inspections. complete customs. .

They also propose that goods be classified according to their level of risk to human, animal or plant health.

The Cabinet Office insisted that it was its “firm intention” to go ahead with the first phase of controls in October this year.

Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, the minister in charge of the process, insisted the plans struck the right balance between ensuring the safety of goods entering the UK and ensuring trade flows freely.

“Our proposals strike a balance between giving consumers and businesses confidence and reducing costs and friction for businesses,” he said.

Lord Benyon, biosecurity minister, said it was “vital” for the UK to have strong borders. “Invasive diseases could cost our farms and businesses billions of pounds, threaten our food security and break confidence in UK exports around the world,” he said.

The National Union of Farmers welcomed the proposals. “Over the last three years our farmers have faced the full range of EU controls on our exports, while the EU has enjoyed continued easy access to the UK market,” said Minette Batters, president of NFU.

“As we mark ten years since the horse meat scandal, and with stories of food fraud recently making headlines, it is critical that a robust system of import controls is put in place as quickly as possible and that there are no further delays.” .

However, Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, which represents chilled food retailers, noted that when similar customs checks were introduced on goods flowing from the UK to the EU, the increased red tape forced many smaller UK companies to stop exporting.

“There’s nothing in what’s being proposed in this model to suggest that we won’t have exactly the same experience in reverse,” Brennan said.

Andrew Opie, director of food and safety at the British Retail Consortium, the retail trade body, said it was “imperative” for the government to step up its engagement with European retailers and their suppliers to avoid disruption.

“The ports and the farmers . . . it needs to be ready for physical checks from January when the UK is particularly reliant on imported goods,” Opie said.

The plans will be subject to a six week consultation period before being finalized.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *