Three years after officially leaving the EU, the UK has begun to apply controls on animal products imported to Great Britain from the EU.
The BTOM (Border Target Operating Model), came into force on 31 January, and the full regime will be introduced during the course of 2024, with SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary) checks on medium-risk food, animal and plant products from the EU coming into force from 30 April.
The British Poultry Council (BPC) spokeswoman said it was welcome that there was finally a level playing field for the UK’s trading partners, but said the reality of Brexit was the admin was “painfully onerous”.
“As onerous as checks are, equalising UK-EU trade is a step towards eliminating the imbalance that poses a food safety and biosecurity risk. We have already had imported food safety issues; animal disease poses an ongoing risk. Never mind the “advanced border” promised by Government; at this point we just need a working one.”
Additional certification alone has cost £55 million a year for British poultry producers that export to the EU since Brexit. EU exporters and UK importers have paid £0 up to now.
“By no means do we want the costs and burdens wrapped up in additional administration, but disruption is not an argument against prioritising reciprocity,” the BPC spokeswoman added. “This is about levelling the playing field – particularly in the absence of an SPS Agreement, in which all these concerns and burdens could be addressed. The only way we can drastically reduce checks via TCA negotiations is by levelling the playing field across industries, sectors and entire nations – levelling the burden, per se.”
Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, said: “Our aim is to have border controls which maximise the protection of the UK population from harms such as drugs and animal and human diseases while minimising the disruption to legitimate trade. The new UK system being introduced over the course of this year makes a huge stride towards meeting this objective. We have worked with traders and businesses extensively to design the controls and will continue to listen to their feedback.”
NFU President Minette Batters said: “Livestock businesses must feel confident that border checks and controls safeguard the nation’s biosecurity and food safety, and that sufficient resource is dedicated to stamping out fraud and illegal activity where that exists. Domestic producers work under stringent UK regulations to guarantee the safety of our food so it is a relief that these checks will finally be in place from April after years of delays.”