Posted: Tue 14th Sep 2021
Border controls on agri-food products entering the UK from the European Union will be further delayed due to continuing supply chain problems.
Several post-Brexit requirements for food and agriculture goods imported into the UK from the EU were due to come into force in October this year or January 2022.
The government originally pushed back the introduction of the extra paperwork earlier this year but today further delays have been announced.
Ministers blame the pandemic for disrupting global supply chains which has led to food shortages in supermarkets across the UK.
Full customs declarations and controls will be introduced on 1 January 2022 as previously announced, but the following delays will take place:
The requirement for pre-notification of agri-food imports will be introduced on 1 January 2022 as opposed to 1 October 2021.
The new requirements for Export Health Certificates, due to be introduced on 1 October 2021, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022.
Phytosanitary Certificates and physical checks on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) goods at border control posts, due to be introduced on 1 January 2022, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022.
The requirement for Safety and Security declarations on imports will be introduced as of 1 July 2022 as opposed to 1 January 2022.
In a written statement to Parliament, paymaster general Penny Mordaunt said: "The pandemic has had longer-lasting impacts on businesses, both in the UK and in the European Union, 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 agri-food sector.
"In these circumstances, the government has decided to delay further some elements of the new controls."
Brexit minister Lord Frost added: "We want businesses to focus on their recovery from the pandemic rather than have to deal with new requirements at the border, which is why we've set out a pragmatic new timetable for introducing full border controls.
"Businesses will now have more time to prepare for these controls, which will be phased in throughout 2022.
"The government remains on track to deliver the new systems, infrastructure and resourcing required."
Business groups welcomed the announcement but said more needs to be done.
Sean McGuire, Europe director of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: "Additional time could help to relieve pressure on supply chains ahead of the traditionally busy Christmas period for retailers, especially given current headwinds. But the impact will be fleeting unless that extra time delivers progress on the challenges firms are facing.
"That includes both sides giving fresh consideration to business’ suggestion for a bespoke veterinary agreement, which could avoid the majority of checks and reflect the unique nature of trade between the UK and the EU. And where supply bottlenecks are caused by labour shortages, the UK should use the immigration levers within its gift to alleviate short-term pressures."
Earlier this month, Marks & Spencer wrote to suppliers saying it was "clear…that neither the UK government or EU member state authorities are going to be ready" for new border controls.
The letter warned of a "real danger of disruption and delay at the EU to GB border that will lead to significant food waste across the sector, reductions in range and availability, and inflationary pressures".