Photo credtis @ UK Home Office/ Wikimedia Commons

EU imports health and safety checks “fully on” from 30 April, DEFRA insist

Contrary to media reports last week, the UK government will begin implementing the new health and safety border checks on 30 April, prioritising high-risk goods first, DEFRA has insisted.

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“The UK government has full confidence that the facilities, infrastructure and systems at the border, will be ready for the 30 April implementation date of new border checks, ” states DEFRA, in a blog post clarifying the speculation around the next post-Brexit border measure coming up at the end of the month.

At the end of last week, the Financial Times published a report on the forthcoming health and safety checks on EU and EEA imported food at UK border posts, stating that a UK government agency had told the country’s port authorities that it will not “turn on” these new measures.

However, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) refuted the allegation on Friday, 19 April, in a blog post.

“There has been reporting this morning (19 April) claiming that health and safety checks for EU imports won’t be “turned on” as planned from 30 April 2024. This is not the case, as has been previously outlined, we will be commencing checks from 30 April.”

Port authorities will conduct physical checks on the highest risk items from day one, while documentary checks will be applied to all incoming goods.

Logistics firms question UK’s border readiness

Industry group Logistics UK, however, has questioned the government’s preparedness for the new border checks. Nichola Mallon, Head of Trade and Devolved Policy at Logistics UK, expressed concerns about the readiness of facilities, infrastructure, and systems at the border to handle the influx of checks.

“Our members do not share the government’s confidence, ” Mallon stated, highlighting anxieties surrounding the impact on small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) due to the “cumulative cost” of new procedures.

Logistics UK is particularly worried about the ability of border facilities to efficiently process perishable goods, fearing delays that could ruin produce and disrupt interconnected supply chains.

Mallon further urged the government for clarification on the timeline for scaling up physical checks and the implementation of a “common user charge.”

“Thriving trade requires certainty,” Mallon stressed, criticizing the ongoing uncertainty and confusion surrounding the new measures. Despite years of preparation, Logistics UK feels businesses are left facing “chaos” with just two weeks remaining until the deadline.

The industry group is calling for clear guidance to ensure logistics businesses can continue operating effectively and protect the UK’s supply chain.