UK Delays Post-Brexit Checks on EU Import for 4th Time to Avoid Disruptions

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
April 28, 2022 Updated: April 28, 2022

The UK government has once again delayed the introduction of post-Brexit border checks on imports from the European Union, citing risks of disruption at a time of rising costs of living.

The government has dropped plans to restrict imports of chilled meats from the EU and to impose further checks on plant and animal products, which had been due to come into effect in July, Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said on April 28.

It is the fourth time the UK government has delayed import checks on EU goods since the UK left the EU.

In a written statement to the House of Commons, Rees-Mogg said: “British businesses and people going about their daily lives are being hit by rising costs caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine and in energy prices. It would therefore be wrong to impose new administrative burdens and risk disruption at ports and to supply chains at this point.”

He said no further import controls on EU goods will be introduced this year, which he said would save British businesses up to £1 billion ($1.24 billion) in annual costs.

The government will now target the end of 2023 as the revised date for the introduction of import controls, he said.

Business groups have welcomed the news.

Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, said the controls “would have had a devastating effect on the ability of our food businesses to import goods that UK consumers want.”

“We are dealing with significant supply chain stress and inflationary costs this year and this would have made a bad situation much worse,” he added.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said the delay of import checks means “one less burden” for British businesses.

FSB National Chair Martin McTague urged the government to “do its utmost to minimise trade friction with regions all over the globe.”

But port operators expressed frustration that time and money spent preparing for the new checks has been “wasted.”

The UK Major Ports Group, which represents UK port operators, said many ports have been “working incredibly hard” and have invested over £100 million ($124 million) of their own money to build brand new facilities to meet the government’s requirements for post-Brexit border checks.

“This now looks like wasted time, effort, and money to develop what we fear will be highly bespoke white elephants,” said Chief Executive Tim Morris.

Downing Street denied the government was edging towards a position where it would unilaterally accept EU controls.

“That is not the approach we are taking. We are using the flexibility that the UK government has to decide how and when to introduce this approach,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said.

“We think there is more work to do on a new model that better utilises data and technology. We are still committed to introducing these checks.”

PA Media contributed to this report.