Government questioned on fourth delay to import controls
18 May 2022
The House of Lords European Affairs Committee has today written to the Minister for Brexit Opportunities, Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, regarding the Government’s recent decision to delay the introduction of import controls on EU goods entering Great Britain for the fourth time. The Committee has asked the Minister to clarify the implications of this decision for UK biosecurity, as well as the impact on GB exporters of ongoing asymmetry at the border.
- 18 May 2022 – Letter to Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency in the Cabinet Office, on import controls on EU goods (PDF)
- 28 April 2022 – Letter from Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency in the Cabinet Office, on import controls on EU goods (PDF)
- European Affairs Committee
On 28 April 2022, the Government announced that the remaining post-Brexit import controls on goods entering Great Britain from the EU would no longer be introduced from 1 July 2022, as previously scheduled. This marked the fourth time the Government had decided to postpone the introduction of these controls. The Committee assessed the causes and consequences of the previous delays in its report, ‘One year on: trade in goods between Great Britain and the EU’, which was published on 16 December 2021.
In a letter to this Committee dated 28 April 2022, the Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency in the Cabinet Office, Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, set out the rationale for the Government’s decision, citing “new challenges including ongoing supply chain issues – partly as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and wider cost of living pressures”, which could be compounded by “new administrative burdens, and the risk of disruption to ports and supply chains”. The Minister added in his letter that the Government will publish a “Target Operating Model” in the autumn, which will set out “how and when we will introduce an improved regime of border import controls”. This “new controls regime” will come into force “from the end of 2023”, with further details on the implementation timetable to follow in the Target Operating Model this autumn.
The Committee’s letter
The Committee’s response thanks the Minister for his letter and highlights the Committee’s ongoing interest in this policy area. It neither welcomes nor criticises the decision itself, noting the changes in circumstances that underpin the decision and the range of views among affected stakeholders. However, it asks the Minister a number of questions arising from his letter, including:
- How the Government will ensure that businesses can trust that the Government’s new timetable will be adhered to;
- Whether this latest decision represents a more fundamental change in the Government’s approach to import controls, rather than merely another delay;
- How the Government will mitigate the impact on GB exporters of the “asymmetric” controls in place at the GB-EU border;
- Whether the Government intends to compensate port authorities for the resources they have invested in physical infrastructure, which now may not be needed;
- How the Government will safeguard the UK’s biosecurity from dangerous or illegally smuggled food and animal products in the absence of certain Sanitary and Phytosanitary controls;
- Whether the Government is confident that it is compliant with its international legal obligations at the World Trade Organization.
The Committee has requested that the Minister respond to these questions within the usual ten working days.