Look again, Boris! Rebel MPs demand ‘urgent’ Brexit deal action – fury at red-tape chaos

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Tory and Labour MPs on the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFEA) made the judgment in their Brexit Impact Report. The report examined the state of Seafood and meat exports to the EU following the end of the 2020 transition period.

In the report, MPs warned the new non-tariff barriers introduced by Brexit “continued to hinder businesses, in particular SMEs.”

The Brexit deal averted tariffs or quotas on almost all goods produced in the UK and EU.

But British exports must comply with EU health and safety standards and conformity rules, and there are strict rules governing products made with parts originating outside the EU or UK.

The new standards and attendant bureaucracy have affected UK exports of live mussels, cockles, oysters and other shellfish which are no longer allowed to enter the EU.

MPs in the report warned that “without action”, some businesses will ”relocate activity to the EU or stop exporting to Europe completely.”

The Brexit Impact Report also warned the Government’s guidance ahead of Brexit occurring was “not sufficiently timely, targeted or joined-up”.

It continued: “Since 1 January, businesses exporting seafood and meat to the European Union (EU) have faced substantial new red tape requirements and checks at the border—known as non-tariff barriers—where previously there were none.

“The signing of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the UK and EU on Christmas Eve 2020 was welcome, but meant that businesses only had a week to familiarise themselves with the new trading environment.

“Nevertheless, it had been apparent for many months that the end of the Transition Period would bring major changes to the process of exporting seafood and meat to the EU.”

The report also called for the development of digital systems for exports which would allow resource-consuming paperwork such as the Export Health Certificate to be undertaken more easily.

MPs on the Committee also slated the fact that UK controls on EU seafood and meat imports will not commence until 1 October 2021, with checks at the border only commencing from 1 January 2022.

This move, they claim, had placed British businesses at a competitive disadvantage and reduced the incentive on the European Commission to negotiate measures that would lessen the burdens facing British producers.

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MPs suggested that the UK Government should take a “pragmatic” approach in discussions with the EU to reduce ‘considerable’ non-tariff barriers.

Neil Parish MP, Chair of the EFRA Select Committee, said: “British businesses have acted with incredible agility and perseverance to adapt to the new processes for exporting meat and seafood to the EU.

“With the many checks causing delays and costs, this hasn’t been easy.

“We are concerned that in the absence of equivalent checks for imports from the EU to Great Britain, there will be serious long-term repercussions for our producers.

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“As it stands, the playing field is not even, and the Government must ensure that the new timetable to introduce import checks is adhered to.

“It must be pragmatic in seeking an agreement with the EU to reduce the red tape that harms both sides, and in the meantime, crack on with giving practical support to small British businesses to sell their produce abroad.”

A Committee source said: “We’re asking the UK government to urgently think about the deal that has been agreed and take sufficient steps to remedy issues exporters have been facing.

“Businesses have suffered enough.”

Tory MPs on the Committee include Neil Parish, Neil Hudson, Robbie Moore, Derek Thomas, Julian Sturdy and Sheryll Murray.

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