Call for evidence launched on trade in goods between Great Britain and the EU
20 September 2021
The House of Lords European Affairs Committee publishes a call for evidence for its new inquiry into trade in goods between Great Britain (GB) and the EU, and is interested in written evidence from individuals and organisations by 29 October 2021.
Following the conclusion of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) and the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, the UK formally left the Single Market and Customs Union. This led to the introduction of a series of new non-tariff barriers to trade between GB and the EU, including checks and controls on goods crossing the GB-EU border.
On 14 September 2021, the UK Government announced a further delay in the introduction of new import controls on goods entering GB from the EU. These new checks and controls, which had been due to be implemented from 1 October 2021 and 1 January 2022, will now be introduced from 1 January 2022 and, in the case of many new controls for food and animal products, 1 July 2022. This decision is the third time the Government had delayed the introduction of these import controls. In announcing this delay, the Government stated that its “own preparations, in terms of systems, infrastructure and resourcing, remain on track to meet” the original timetable, and that the delay instead reflected the impact of the pandemic and wider pressures on supply chains.
In contrast to this approach, the EU introduced full import controls from 1 January 2021. This has led to an asymmetry between GB exports to the EU and GB imports from the EU, with the former facing more checks and controls than the latter.
The Committee’s call for evidence asks the following questions:
1. What have been the overall consequences to date of the implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the end of the transition period for GB-EU trade in goods?
a.What have been the key challenges for GB-EU trade in goods so far, and how might such challenges be mitigated?
2. Do you agree with the Government’s decision to delay further the introduction of certain checks and controls on imports of EU goods into GB?What are the advantages and disadvantages of this decision?
a. In your view, what were the key factors underpinning the decision to delay the introduction of import controls?
3. What are the implications of continued ‘asymmetry’ between GB and EU border controls, for example on the competitiveness of GB businesses, on border security, and on customs revenue? Are these asymmetric arrangements sustainable?
a. What, if any, are the legal implications of delaying the introduction of import controls with respect to the UK’s international obligations, both under the TCA and as a member of the World Trade Organisation?
b. Have the UK authorities applied existing checks and controls consistently to imports from different EU Member States?
4. To what extent are businesses, ports, hauliers, the customs intermediary sector and other relevant groups ready for the introduction of full customs controls, and the expiry of other relevant grace periods, from 1 January 2022, and for additional SPS controls from 1 July 2022? Are there any particular challenges or concerns ahead of these deadlines? How do current levels of preparedness compare to previous preparedness for the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020?
5. Ahead of these changes, what is your assessment of the quality of existing Government communications, guidance, advice, funding and support for traders and ports? If there are any shortcomings, how should these be addressed?
a. Having made the decision to delay the introduction of certain checks, how should the Government best use this extra time?
b. Do you have confidence that the Government’s revised timetable for the introduction of checks will be delivered on time?
6.Is disruption to trade flows or supply chains expected from the implementation of additional checks and controls from January and July 2022? If so, what form might any disruption take, and can it be mitigated by Government action?
7. What, if any, is the relationship between the timetable for the introduction of new checks and controls and the current challenges facing supply chains due to labour shortages?
8. How would you assess the checks and controls that GB exports to the EU have faced since January 2021, such as Sanitary and Phytosanitary requirements, customs formalities, Rules of Origin, and VAT?
a.What has been the impact of these checks and controls on British traders and hauliers?
b. Have these controls on GB exports been applied fairly, proportionately and consistently across EU Member States?
9. Are there any other concerns or issues relating to GB-EU goods trade, either to date or in the future, which you would like to highlight?