Brexit may 'ignite true reform' in the EU says MEP
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The UK Government has delayed implementation of inspections of EU food entering Britain until autumn this year in a bid to avoid any food shortages. Representatives from the food sector have warned about the “nightmare” situation of new paperwork and rules which have come into effect under the trade deal.
Karin Goodburn, director-general of the Chilled Food Association, warned EU food manufacturers are threatening to abandon the UK after British companies struggle with the new regulations.
She told the UK Trade and Business Commission: “When we start applying these types of things on the import checks coming into Great Britain, I don’t think our continental cousins are going to know what’s hit them.
“I’ve already been told by a Belgian association that a couple of their major members aren’t going to try to send food here anymore.”
James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, said they are facing “no gain and a world of pain”.
Nick Allen, head of the British Meat Processors Associations, said the new arrangements had created a “monster of a system” hitting smaller businesses hard.
He claimed meat exports are running at 70 to 75 percent of their previous levels, arguing the deal imposed a trading system for container ships rather than transit of trucks.
Mr Allen previously hit out at the Brexit trade deal, signed on Christmas Eve, and claimed the Government needs to “urgently” work out lasting solutions.
He said: “The export hurdles we face are now in plain sight and are not going away.
“We need Government to urgently re-engage with both the industry and the EU to work out detailed and lasting solutions.
“The British Meat Processors Association and its members stand ready to consult with Government and map out those solutions.”
Yesterday, MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee said the Government should “adopt a pragmatic stance in the pursuit of a veterinary partnership”.
This, they claimed, would help reduce the non-tariff measures hitting food exporters.
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These warnings come just days after the European Council rubber-stamped the Trade and Cooperation Agreement after MEPs backed it in a crunch vote.
With the final formalities now complete the future relationship pact struck on Christmas Eve last year will enter into force on May 1.
Portuguese Europe minister Ana Paula Zacarias said: “Today we open a new chapter in our relations with the UK.
“The conclusion of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement will give legal certainty to the new EU-UK relationship, in the interests of citizens and business on both sides of the Channel.
“We value the UK as a good neighbour, an old ally and an important partner.”
The UK and EU will now exchange letters to allow the zero-tariff, zero-quota trade agreement to enter into force after four months of “provisional application”.
Prime Minister Mr Johnson hailed the moment 660 MEP endorsed his Brexit trade deal as the “final steps” in our EU exit.
He said: “This week is the final step in a long journey, providing stability to our new relationship with the EU as vital trading partners, close allies and sovereign equals.
“Now is the time to look forward to the future and to building a more global Britain.”
Stubborn MEPs previously refused to rubber-stamp the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement in the row over customs controls between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.
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