Concern over spike in border checks as UK details no-deal Brexit plans for food

Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Concerns have been raised that no-deal Brexit could add up to a logistical nightmare and lead to serious shortfalls in capacity for vets certifying animals and animal products entering and exiting the UK.

Leaving the European Union without a proper divorce deal could see a spike in regulatory checks on food exports to the UK, prevent hauliers from lugging goods to the world's biggest trading bloc and even make headaches for pet owners who want to take their dogs on holiday, according to UK government documents.

It published 25 technical notices on Monday covering everything from commercial road haulage and buying timber to airline regulations and taking pets abroad.

In terms of live animals and animal products crucial for Ireland, there would be an increase in the number of consignments requiring import control checks at a border inspection posts as a result of the need to carry out these checks on transit items that are currently carried out elsewhere in the EU.

Exports of animals and animal products will be carried out subject to the EU listing the UK as an accepted third country.

Even when access to the Single Market is achieved, there have been warnings previously that a no-deal Brexit could lead to a 325pc increase in the volume of products requiring veterinary certification as they leave and enter the UK.

Commenting on the publication of the notices the British Veterinary Association warned that Brexit could exacerbate existing shortages and recruitment problems in the workforce and is calling for vets to be reinstated on the Shortage Occupation List to safeguard against shortfalls in capacity. 

Nearly half of vets registering to work in the UK every year come from the EU, and 95pc of official vets working in abattoirs come from overseas, mainly the EU. 

Overall, the UK government has published more than 65 such notices giving a glimpse of what a no-deal Brexit would look like.

Amid warnings that trucks could stack up on both sides of the English Channel in the confusion of a no deal, Britain said it would seek to strike bilateral agreements with European countries to ensure hauliers would retain access.

The notices covered a vast swathe of the British economy, warning, for example, that labels on packaged food would have to be changed.

"Use of the term ‘EU’ in origin labelling would no longer be correct for food or ingredients from the UK," the government said.

Honey producers would have to change their labels while EU countries might not accept British mineral water, the government said.

In the worse case scenario for pet owners, dogs, cats and even ferrets might need health certificates and rabies jabs. Travel plans would have to be discussed with a vet at least four months in advance before traveling to the EU.

That would mean someone wanting to take their pet to the EU on March 30, 2019, the day after Britain leaves the bloc, would have to discuss the trip with a vet before the end of November.

Without a deal, the UK would move from seamless trade with the rest of the EU to customs arrangements set by the World Trade Organization for external states with no preferential deals.

Online Editors