The UK said on Tuesday it would again delay border checks on goods from the EU until next year, citing supply chain issues.
The UK Cabinet office said in a statement that the “revised timetable will give companies more time to adjust to the new processes.”
The government has said the pandemic has affected supply chains in the UK and across Europe and its agri-food sector has been hit particularly hard.
However, government critics and some trade experts say Boris Johnson’s administration was ill-prepared for the new border changes that are the result of the hard Brexit negotiated with the EU.
Full customs declarations and checks will be introduced as planned on January 1, 2022. But in the new deadline, the administrative formalities and controls for EU agricultural products that were to enter into force from October will not be introduced. than next year – three months later.
The export health certificates, also required from October, will only be introduced in nine months, until July 1, 2022. Safety and security declarations will not be necessary before next July either, ie a delay six months.
The government original plan was to introduce border controls on EU imports when the post-Brexit transition period expired at the end of 2020. In June of the same year, he said these controls would be phased in, then last March announced a new delay of several months.
The new additional delays were announced in a Written response from the House of Commons.
“We want companies to focus on their recovery from the pandemic rather than having to face new demands at the border, which is why we have established a new pragmatic timetable for the introduction of full border controls. “said Cabinet Minister Lord David Frost. .
“The government remains on track to provide the new systems, infrastructure and resources necessary” to carry out the checks, he added.
The government cites the pandemic, but the UK’s departure after Brexit from the EU’s single market and customs union, which ended on January 1, has not been without problems. The EU immediately introduced the resulting new border rules, which impacted UK exports.
While many businesses anticipated the frictions, sourcing ahead of time, the new bureaucracy and costs hit traders hard.
The problem worsened during the pandemic – when global supply chains were disrupted by closures – and a shortage of workers in the UK, especially truck drivers, brought on by the departure of citizens from the UK. ‘EU and COVID-induced travel disruption.
Delays have been particularly damaging for fresh produce and have led many supermarkets in the UK to display empty shelves.
The Bank of England reported earlier this month that employers’ pool of applicants was shrinking at a “record rate”, with many struggling to fill vacancies.
The latest delays follow the UK government’s suspension of controls on food items sent from Britain to Northern Ireland, under the Brexit Divorce Treaty. Its impact has caused disruption and renewed tensions between London and Brussels. The EU, however, suspended the lawsuit against the UK.
British Chambers of Commerce have called the latest delay in border checks “sensitive”. But the UK’s Food and Drink Federation accused the government of blinding businesses that had prepared for controls.
“This decision penalizes those who took government advice and rewards those who ignored it,” said chief executive Ian Wright.
He added that “the asymmetric nature of border controls facing exports and imports distorts the market and places many UK producers at a competitive disadvantage compared to EU producers”.
Employers’ organization CBI said the delay should ease pressure on supply chains as Christmas approaches, while warning that the underlying difficulties for businesses must be addressed.
He called for a tailor-made veterinary deal between the UK and the EU that would reduce most border controls, and a relaxation of post-Brexit immigration rules to deal with chronic labor shortages. ‘artwork.
David Henig, director of the ECIPE trade think tank, recalled that it was the UK’s choice not to extend the Brexit transition period, which would have delayed all new border controls.
“The government’s choice not to extend simply meant controls on UK exports and a greater staff shortage,” he tweeted.