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.
Northern Ireland – extension of grace period to 1 October
The UK government has published a new operational plan which extends the grace period from 1 April to 1 October (see key dates section for more details) for supermarkets and their suppliers moving goods into Northern Ireland. This will allow more time to digitise the process using a new Digital Assistance Scheme.
The plan sets out the following phased approach to introducing certification requirements for authorised traders from October 2021. Timings for each of these phases will be set out in forthcoming guidance.
- Phase 1: wider fresh meat products
- Phase 2: dairy, plants and seeds for planting and wine
- Phase 3: fruit and vegetables marketing standards, fruit and vegetables SPS and pet food
- Phase 4: Short-shelf life, composite products, ambient, poultry marketing standards, fish, catch certificates, organics and high-risk food not of animal origin
European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefcovic said the unilateral move by the UK government amounted to "a violation of the relevant substantive provisions" of the Brexit deal on Northern Ireland. Legal action is reported to be imminent.
Sending parcels to Northern Ireland
The government has also announced that the grace period for business-to-business parcel deliveries will be extended until 1 October from 1 April. No customs declarations will be required until after 1 October.
Movement Assistance Scheme to cover organics
It has been announced that traders moving organic products to Northern Ireland are now eligible for support following the expansion of the scheme.
UK Trader Scheme extension
Under the UK Trader Scheme, there has been an extension until 1 November for businesses supplying goods to a business in Northern Ireland to be authorised to declare goods not ‘at risk’ without having a fixed address in Northern Ireland.
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:
- 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.
- 21 April – Regulation (EU) 2016/429 on transmissible animal diseases (the EU’s Animal Health Law) comes into effect, with a new model of Export Health Certificates that will principally impact the export of composite products containing products of animal origin (POAO) as an ingredient.
- 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. Tariffs will become payable at the moment of import.
- 1 October – End of the grace period for supermarkets and their suppliers moving goods into Northern Ireland. The start of a phased introduction of the Export Health Certificates for products of animal origin (POAO) exported to Northern Ireland from GB.
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
Trade and Agriculture Commission final report
The Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC) has published its final report. TAC was established in July 2020, with the objective of allowing food and agricultural interests a greater voice in development of food policy.
The report recommends that the UK government must maintain high food standards for imports. It outlines a range of principles, actions and recommendations.
Eligibility criteria for COVID-19 home testing for workers
Trials of institutional home testing are underway and this ‘home collect’ service is expected to be made available from the end of this month. Eligibility criteria has not yet been confirmed, but it is expected to be offered to larger businesses that operate a number of small sites, and to businesses that have mobile workers.
The government’s preferred testing approach is supervised workplace testing and it is encouraging businesses to adopt this programme wherever possible. Those interested in taking part can register here.
Businesses with fewer than 50 employees in England are encouraged to contact their local authority to explore the possibility of using community testing facilities for workers that cannot work from home.
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