Photo credits @ Port of Dover (illustrative purposes only)

Post-Brexit health and safety border checks to be delayed until unknown date, reports Financial Times

Post-Brexit health and safety border checks for EU imports will be delayed again, The Financial Times revealed last night. It is unknown for how long.

You can read this article in 3 minutes

According to The Financial Times (FT), a UK Government authority told the country’s port authorities that it will not “turn on” critical health and safety checks for EU imports when post-Brexit border controls begin this month because of the risk of “significant disruption.”

In a presentation seen by the business newspaper, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) outlined a plan to avoid queues of lorries at ports, revealing that if the new border measures were implemented as planned big delays could follow.

Since announcing new border controls on plant and food products last year the government has promised it would “phase in” checks, which trade groups have warned will hurt small businesses and drive up the price of food.

However, just over a fortnight before physical inspections are set to begin, the presentation last week made clear that the new border systems will not be fully ready, FT reports.

To get around the problem, the government said it would ensure the rate of checks was initially “set to zero for all commodity groups” — essentially switching off large parts of the risk management system, in what it called a “phased implementation approach”. 

In its presentation, Defra admitted to port health authorities that “challenges” still remained within its systems for registering imports of food and animal products that could inadvertently trigger unmanageable levels of inspections, overwhelming ports. “There is a potential for significant disruption on day one if all commodity codes are turned on at once,” said the organisation, as quoted by FT.

The presentation did not make clear for how long border checks would be suspended but indicated that the systems would be “progressively turned on” for different product groups.

As trans.iNFO has reported several occasions, business organisations have repeatedly called for the introduction of the new border to be delayed until at least October.