Ulster Farmers’ Union slams UK government’s decision to scrap controls on EU imports
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has criticized the UK government’s decision to suspend the introduction of new post-Brexit border controls on EU imports into the UK as a step backwards.
FU President, Victor Chestnutt said it was a decision that needed to be “reconsidered immediately”.
The government has abandoned plans to impose additional checks on goods entering the UK from the European Union.
Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said it would be ‘wrong to impose new administrative burdens and risk disruption at ports’ and added that no further import checks would be imposed on EU goods this year.
The change means restrictions on imports of chilled meat from the EU and border controls on plant and animal products will not be introduced in July.
Port operators have expressed frustration that the time and money spent preparing for the new checks has been “wasted”.
Mr Rees-Mogg said a “new border import control regime” will be established by the end of 2023.
Goods from the UK will continue to be subject to checks in the EU despite the government’s decision not to introduce checks in Britain.
Controls that have already been introduced in the UK will remain in place.
In a statement to MPs, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “When the UK left the European Union, we regained the right to manage our own borders in a way that works for Britain.
“This includes how we handle imports into our country from overseas.
“British businesses and people going about their daily lives are being hit by rising costs caused by the Russian war in Ukraine and energy prices.
“It would therefore be wrong to impose new administrative burdens and risk disrupting ports and supply chains at this stage. Remaining import controls on EU goods will no longer be introduced this year, saving UK businesses up to £1billion in annual costs. .”
Reacting to the plans, Mr Chestnutt said the government’s decision to delay the imposition of border controls on EU imports for the fourth time was “completely unacceptable and grossly unfair” to local producers.
“They are expected to meet world-leading standards, which they pride themselves on, while our EU competitors can take full advantage of an extended grace period allowing them access to our hugely valuable domestic market relatively free of charge.
“This has created an uneven playing field and puts our biosecurity, food safety and animal health at risk.
“Our local farmers are struggling to manage soaring production costs and our government has once again let them down when they need their support the most. Huge inflationary pressures put the future of many agricultural businesses at risk.
“The government should work with local producers to maintain and protect our local food security, not make bad decisions that will make an already extremely difficult situation worse,” he continued.
“We understand that the Government’s justification for delaying checks is due to the current cost of living crisis and the additional expense it could create for consumers.
“However, we have also continued to flag the plight of farmers with respect to exorbitant on-farm cost increases that we simply cannot absorb on our own, and this must also be taken into account. For this control delay anti-competitive additional now added to this, is extremely disappointing.
It is crucial that negotiators now seek to achieve a level playing field without delay with practical and reasonable controls on imports and exports, the UFC said.
Mr Chestnutt concluded: “The UFU continues to press for this border control issue to be resolved and urges the Government to abandon these plans to suspend the introduction of new border controls post-Brexit, ending the threat of causing significant damage to our food and agriculture. Industries.
“If the government fails to do this, then it must urgently indicate how it will protect our farmers from being disadvantaged compared to EU competitors while safeguarding the health and welfare of animals in the UK in the coming months.”