The All-Party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee expressed concern that the checks on some EU imports, including fish, had been pushed back a further three months to November 2022 – having already been deferred three times.
It re-iterated its fear that these delays by the Government were undermining the competitiveness of British businesses and could create more incentives to move premises and jobs abroad to EU countries.
The committee has sent a letter to Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice claiming the Government's failure to introduce import checks on animal-based food was 'lamentable'. The EU had implemented checks on similar items being exported from Great Britain from 1 January 2021, the letter points out.
The EFRA Committee has already highlighted its concerns in its April 2021 report on the seafood and meat trade with the EU, claiming the continued absence of checks on imports of meat, fish and dairy products from the EU had many negative effects.
In addition to damaging competitiveness, it said the situation would also increase the risks around food safety and reduce the incentive for the EU to negotiate with Britain on such matters.
Level playing field
“We’ve warned before that there must be a level playing field for British businesses. We simply cannot understand why the Government doesn’t swiftly introduce the same checks on EU food imports that the EU did for British produce from day one. The loss of competitiveness creates the risk that our farming and food businesses relocate abroad, causing job losses in rural areas – an outcome I cannot believe the government wants,” said chair of the EFRA Committee, Neil Parish MP.
“The timetable has been revised four times – therefore the Committee has little faith in this new schedule. Enough is enough. From now on, the Committee has requested a comprehensive update on progress from the Department on the first working day of every month and for it to inform us immediately of any further delays - and the reason.”