UK delays post-Brexit import checks again

Brexit | | MIC Customs Solutions |

The UK government is expected to again push back the implementation of new checks on imports of fresh food produce from the EU.

The UK government is set to postpone the implementation of new post-Brexit checks on fresh food imports for a fifth time, reports say.

Additional controls on imports to the UK from the EU were set to come into force in October, having already been subject to repeated delays, the Financial Times reports. The newspaper noted that officials are concerned that the additional red tape required for "medium-risk" products would lead to higher prices for consumers and fuel inflation.

Health certifications on imports from the UK to the EU have already been implemented since January 2021, and British food producers have raised concerns that the one-sided measures put them at a disadvantage compared with their European counterparts.

However, industry group the Cold Chain Federation welcomed the latest delay, with chief executive Shane Brennan saying the government had made the right decision.

He added: "UK food retailers, hospitality businesses and consumers were in line for major disruption because many EU food-producing businesses supplying into the UK are not ready for the new requirements.”

Under the proposed rules, EU exporters of food products to the UK would have needed to obtain export health certificates, which were expected to cost several hundred euros each and require a physical sign-off by a veterinary surgeon for livestock shipments.

Mr Meadows warned that many EU suppliers - particularly smaller producers of items such as cheese - remained unaware of the impending changes, which could have led to shortages in stores if exports were interrupted by the checks.

The expected move comes shortly after the UK government also abandoned plans to replace the EU's CE safety mark with a British equivalent. The proposed UKCA alternative would have been required for a range of items sold in the UK, from electronics to children's toys. 

However, as it would not be recognized in the EU, goods manufactured for export would still have needed the CE symbol, and businesses had warned that requirements to meet two differing standards and labeling requirements would have greatly increased costs.