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MPs probe checks on food and animal imports from EU

24 January 2022

TEnvironment Food and Rural Affairs Committee announces a hearing into checks on imports from the EU of food and live animals.

It is probing why full checks on imports into Great Britain from the EU have yet to be introduced (except for the most high-risk products) despite the EU having implemented checks on British exports immediately after ‘Brexit’ began on 1 January 2021.

The committee has expressed concern that this imbalance in checks and controls gives a competitive advantage to EU exporters, may compromise British biosecurity and weakens the British negotiating position with the EU.

A one-off public evidence session titled Import Check Readiness will be held on 1 March. Details of the exact time and the witnesses who will answer questions from the MPs on the committee will be announced in due course.

Full checks and controls on imports of live animals and food at the GB border - which had originally been due to come into force on 1 January 2021 - have been postponed four times by the government and are not due to be fully implemented until late 2022.

Full checks and controls would include export health certificates and physical checks at border crossing points. Some initial checks on imports into the UK (called ‘import pre-notification’) have been implemented.

The Committee is interested in receiving evidence on (but not exclusively) the following topics:

Call for evidence:

  1. Has the introduction of import pre-notification for Sanitary and Phytosanitary [animal and plant health] goods from EU Member States (except the Republic of Ireland) on 1 January 2022 gone smoothly? How has the government responded to concerns raised by businesses since their introduction?
  2. Was the government right to delay on four occasions the introduction of import checks and controls? How well has it managed and communicated those delays?
  3. How prepared are British food and farming sector businesses, border posts and the government for the introduction of further checks from 1 July 2022? What will be the impact of these extra checks?
  4. How confident is the sector that the timetable for introducing further checks from July 2022 will be met?

Please note that these issues only apply to Great Britain and not Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland ‘Brexit’ Protocol effectively treats Northern Ireland in some trading terms as being part of the EU.

Submissions are welcome until 11.59pm on Thursday 17 February.

Further information

Image: Esa/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported