UK

UK delays full checks on EU food imports for a year and a half

Safety & Legislation

The British government announced the measure will come into force by the end of 2023.

Posted on May 02 ,12:14

UK delays full checks on EU food imports for a year and a half

Although full checks on EU food imports were scheduled to come into force from July 1st, the British government decided to postpone the measure. Jacob Rees-Mogg, Brexit opportunities minister, said the approach will be revised before coming into force by the end of 2023. Controls introduced in January 2021 on the highest risk imports of animal and plant products will continue. Full checks would include export health certificates and physical controls at borders. Some initial measures on imports into the UK called pre-notification are in place. The EU introduced full border checks in January 2021.
"It’s vital that we have the right import controls regime in place, so we’ll now be working with industry to review these remaining controls so that they best suit the UK’s own interests. We want the process for importing goods from the EU to be safe, secure and efficient and we want to harness innovative new technologies to streamline processes and reduce frictions,” minister Rees-Mogg said.
On the other hand, several associations in the meat industry are warning about elevated risks brought by this new delay. "It is astounding that the government is taking such an unacceptable approach to critical checks for agri-food imports from the EU. These checks are absolutely crucial to the nation’s biosecurity, animal health and food safety and without them, we really do leave ourselves at risk. For the introduction of these checks to have been delayed three times was bad enough but to now have them essentially scrapped in favour of an unknown system is unacceptable", commented NFU president Minette Batters.
Her point of view is shared by the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW), which warns about the risk of ASF entering the UK due to the multiple delays in implementing the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) controls. "The UK government’s decision to once again delay the full implementation of import controls, possibly until next year, is a gross neglect of the health of the Scottish pig industry. Pig producers urgently need their national government to step up and take action on this issue. Otherwise, we could easily be facing catastrophic problems," declared SAMW executive manager Martin Morgan.
At the same time, the British Meat Processors Association sees this decision as a "real double edged sword for British businesses". "On the one hand it makes importing the one quarter of food that stocks UK supermarket shelves cheaper and easier to get into the country. But this comes with risks," BMPA said in a press release.

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