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The UK government announced on 11th March that it would delay the introduction of new border controls on EU imports into Great Britain. The revised timetable is as follows:

  • Pre-notification requirements for Products of Animal Origin (POAO), certain animal by-products (ABP) and high-risk Food Not of Animal Origin (HRFNAO) will now not be required until 1 October 2021 (rather than 1 April).
  • Export Health Certificates will also not be required for POAO and certain ABP until 1 October 2021 (again pushed from 1 April).
  • Customs import declarations will still be required, but the option to use the deferred declaration scheme, including submitting supplementary declarations up to six months after the goods have been imported, has been extended to 1 January 2022 (instead of July).
  • Safety and Security Declarations for imports will not be required until 1 January 2022 (instead of July).
  • Physical SPS checks for POAO, certain ABP, and HRFNAO will not be required until 1 January 2022 (instead of July). At that point they will take place at Border Control Posts.
  • Physical SPS checks on high-risk plants will take place at Border Control Posts, rather than at the place of destination as now, from 1 January 2022.
  • Pre-notification requirements and documentary checks, including phytosanitary certificates will be required for low-risk plants and plant products, and will be introduced from 1 January 2022.
  • From March 2022, checks at Border Control Posts will take place on live animals and low risk plants and plant products.

Questions do remain however on some deadlines, notable the ban on imports of fresh meats from the EU into the UK, which was due to come into effect in April, but it is expected will also now be pushed out to October 2021.

In exchanges with the EU and UK officials, ICOS has raised the significant concerns of Irish agri-food exporters on the level of preparedness and the feasibility of these controls and has urged the uptake of flexibilities provided for within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement to reduce the burden of these controls, namely thought the utilisation of e-certification and possibilities to reduce the frequency. 

While we hope that this revised timetable will provide sufficient time for the EU and UK to reach a long-term solution, to address the practicality and burden of these controls, responses to ICOS calls from both parties suggest that prospects of that, at the moment, are slim.

Alison Graham – European Affairs Executive