Your overview of political and economic news with a focus on the food and consumer goods industry, featuring the latest developments and guidance on COVID-19 and adapting to a new relationship with the EU.
Possible grace period extension for Northern Ireland Protocol
The UK-EU joint committee is due meet on 24 February to have further discussions on the working of the Northern Ireland Protocol and a potential extension of the grace period, currently scheduled for 1 April (see key dates section for more details).
This follows concerns that the system will become unworkable if the new certification requirements are introduced from 1 April.
Talks to date have been described as ‘constructive’ raising hopes that an extension will be agreed. However, in the event an agreement is not reached there are other options government can consider including unilateral action to ensure food supply is unaffected.
New P&R requirements for Northern Ireland
Businesses exporting products to Northern Ireland should be prepared for the introduction on 22 February of consignment level certification for prohibited and restricted fresh meat, minced meat and meat preparations (P&Rs) exported to Northern Ireland. Guidance can be found here.
The Food Standards Agency has confirmed that separate consignment level certification is not required for bacon and gammon.
Changes to Trader Support Service
From 1 January, businesses that move goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland needed to register with the Trader Support Service (TSS) in order to submit customs declarations.
Following updates to the functionality of TSS, businesses will be required to submit simplified frontier declarations from 28 February in order to obtain a goods movement reference. Guidance is due to be issued today and businesses are advised to take the opportunity to test the system in the next week.
Key dates for UK-EU transition and support for businesses
Businesses trading with the EU should be prepared for the introduction of further border controls on the following dates:
- 22 February – the introduction of consignment level certification for prohibited and restricted fresh meat, minced meat and meat preparations (P&Rs) exported to Northern Ireland.
- 1 April – End of the grace period for supermarkets and their suppliers moving goods into Northern Ireland. All products of animal origin (POAO) exported to Northern Ireland will require Export Health Certificates.
- 1 April – Products of animal origin and all regulated plants and plant products will require pre-notification and health documentation to be imported into the UK. There may also by physical checks, conducted at the final destination.
- 30 June – The grace period for sending certain P&R goods from GB to NI ends.
- 1 July – Products of animal origin and all regulated plants and plant products will be subject to physical checks at Border Control Posts in the UK. The regime of border checks will become more rigorous.
Complete customs declarations for imports to the UK will be required. Importers may no longer defer making declarations.
The government is encouraging businesses to reach out to all their European suppliers to ensure they are prepared for import requirements from 1 April.
The UK government has issued guidance specifically for food and drink businesses.
Register here for upcoming webinars on trading with the EU.
Register here for Defra webinars on Importing Products of Animal Origin (POAO) from the European Union into Great Britain.
IGD has also provided additional support to help businesses with EU Exit. Businesses may also wish to refer to the EU EXIT Foodhub, an FAQ website for food and drink businesses.
COVID-19 – changes to shielding list
An additional 1.7m people are expected to be added to the number of people being asked to shield in England, following development of a new predictive risk model that takes into account non-health factors e.g. ethnicity and living circumstances.
820,000 of this group are adults aged under 70. They will all receive letters and e-mails this week advising them to shield and they will be prioritised to receive the vaccination. Defra and Public Health England are keen to understand the implications of these changes on absence levels.
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