Food industry needs more info to prep for EU imports

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Chair of the Committee Neil Parish MP welcomed the assurances
Chair of the Committee Neil Parish MP welcomed the assurances

Related tags: Supply chain, Regulation

The UK food industry needs more information 'urgently' to prepare for imports from the EU, MPs have told Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice.

Writing to the minister, it welcomed Eustice's assurances that full checks on animal and plant imports from the EU would start from 1 July 2022, following past delays and postponements. The letter followed an evidence session of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) on Tuesday 1 March.

Further information

However, the letter highlighted the areas where further information was urgently needed. This included:

• the charging regime for Government-run Inland Border Facilities, which would act as Border Control Posts for some of the UK's busiest ports for SPS products, including Eurotunnel;

• the operating times of Border Control Posts for SPS checks;

• when live animal checks would all take place at the border, rather than at destination as currently occurs;

• the introduction of e-certification in both directions

The committee also asked the Government to set out how it would use the introduction of checks on this side of the Channel to negotiate fewer checks for food and drink exports to the EU.

The chair of the Committee, Neil Parish MP, said: “We welcome the assurances provided by the Secretary of State that full checks on EU food imports will start from 1 July, but it's essential for businesses, ports and consumers that DEFRA clarify key details in good time.”

Risk-based approach

The letter called for the minister to provide further information on how DEFRA would engage with the EU to encourage member states to mirror UK plans to take a risk-based approach to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks for exports to the UK. It asked for an update on efforts to secure a veterinary agreement (or similar) with the EU.

Parish also expressed concern that, as they would be conducted on a risk-based approach, UK checks on EU imports would not be as stringent as EU checks on UK exports. "During the evidence session you also said that you were creating a risk-based SPS check regime and that GB would therefore not be conducting the same intensity of checks on EU goods as the EU conducts on GB goods.

"While I understand your desire to create a proportionate SPS system, the Committee is concerned that this will remove any incentive for the EU to take a more proportionate approach to the checks that GB traders are subjected to. We would therefore be grateful if you could provide us with further information on how you will engage with the EU to encourage them to take a similar risk-based approach to our SPS exports."

In December last year the same committee of MPs expressed 'deep concern' about further Government delays​ on implementing checks on food imports from the EU, claiming it could undermine the competitiveness of British businesses.



Related topics: Supply Chain, Brexit

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