Government criticised over border checks delay
Government has come under fire over its decision to suspend the introduction of new rules on imports from the EU to the UK.
Full controls on animal products, which were due to come into force from April, have now been pushed back until October and other customs declarations, which were scheduled to start from July, have been rescheduled to January 2022.
NFU Scotland says the decision is a “backwards step” and that the delays on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) border controls must be reconsidered.
Announcing the new dates, Michael Gove said Covid-19 had created great disruption than expected and added that the move would ease pressure at the border.
Martin Kennedy, NFU Scotland president, said: “The UK Government’s decision to delay the reciprocal border control process to January 2022 is a serious step back.
“The decision to delay has been taken without progressing essential negotiations with the EU to secure agreement on equivalence on sanitary and phytosanitary trade standards. That is critical if we are to alleviate the problems of asymmetrical trade affecting high value Scottish goods like seed potatoes.
“While our exports of food and drink are facing new difficulties and costs in getting to Europe, the firms that we are often competing with in domestic markets are continuing to get a free pass to come into this country. The rules that should have been applied to imports on the 1st January 2021 are now going to be a year late.
“The UK must quickly address its shortcomings in Border control facilities and long-term arrangements that remove the legislative and costly stranglehold on Scottish agri-food sector exports to the EU must be prioritised or we will simply continue handing a burden-free trading advantage to imports coming from the EU.
“Covid-19 has been disastrous across the globe, but it has focused minds on where and how food is produced. The confidence in our food chains, and the support we have received throughout the pandemic must not be undermined by unchecked imports finding their way into our food service sector where origin and labelling of products are often limited.
“The UK government must rethink this backward step and ensure that exporters and importers are each asked to do the same.”
Border checks delay is a “betrayal of vets and Brexit”
One of the UK’s providers of Official Veterinarians (OV) and meat hygiene inspectors has also strongly criticised the Government’s decision to further delay checks on goods entering Great Britain from the European Union.
Diederick Opperman, managing director of HallMark Veterinary and Compliance Services, said: “Michael Gove and his colleagues now at the top of Government assured us that they had a plan to deliver a Brexit that would be in the best interests of our country. We now know this not to be true.
“Unlike our political masters, the veterinary sector has prepared long and hard for the post-Brexit period including the introduction of checks on meat and dairy imports from the EU. That has included the recruitment of significant numbers of professionally trained staff and paying for them to be ready to begin work in a matter of weeks.
“And then, without consultation, Mr Gove slips out an announcement which has left HallMark in an extremely perilous position because the work we promised to our new team members has been taken away.
“Based on past experience of this Government, I also have no confidence in any commitments Ministers make in relation to future start dates. It truly is an appalling situation and amounts to a betrayal of vets and, indeed, the Government’s supposed Brexit ideal.
“Boris Johnson and Michael Gove promised the British people that Brexit enable the UK to take back control of its borders. In truth and for reasons of political expediency, they have chosen to throw our regulatory borders open.
“We are writing to Mr Gove to seek a meeting and ask when he intends to come up with a plan that sticks and what he expects me to tell my vets in the interim.”