Brexit: What Will France-to-UK Food Checks Mean If It Ever Happens

credit: bbc

UK (Parliament Politic Magazine) – UK media, including the BBC and Financial Times, have reported that post-Brexit food import restrictions and checks are expected to be delayed for the fifth time. However, the implications for travelers from France remain uncertain if and when these measures are implemented.

In contrast to the European Union’s immediate enforcement of comprehensive ‘third country’ formalities on UK imports starting January 1, 2021, the UK government opted for a gradual implementation of border checks.

The country has recently reinstated customs controls; however, it has consistently postponed implementing food import restrictions, such as animal and health checks, as well as certificates. These measures were originally scheduled to commence in October of this year.

Delays Caused by COVID Situation

There have been various arguments put forth in favor of postponing the implementation of certain measures. These arguments have ranged from delays caused by the ongoing COVID situation, to the need for additional time to adequately prepare procedures, and concerns about the potential negative impact on the UK economy if imports from the EU were to decline.

However, it is worth noting that some UK manufacturers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the current situation, citing a lack of fair competition with their EU counterparts. In April 2022, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was serving as the Minister for Brexit Opportunities at the time, made a statement during an interview with ITV.

He stated that the original plan to implement these measures in July 2022 would have been detrimental to the UK, describing it as an “act of self-harm.” Overall, the decision to postpone these measures has been met with a range of opinions and concerns from various stakeholders. He further continues: “It would have increased costs for people and we’re trying to reduce costs,” he said. “That’s the purpose of not going ahead with them and trying to ensure the border flows as smoothly as possible, which benefits everybody.”

How Are Checks Affecting Imports from the UK to France?

The issue pertains to import regulations aimed at preventing the entry of any items into France and the EU that could potentially be tainted with animal or plant diseases. Consequently, specific food products are prohibited, while others, particularly meat, dairy, and fresh produce, undergo costly inspections conducted by veterinarians or phytosanitary experts who specialize in plant health. Additionally, the matter of approval certificates further complicates the situation.

In the direction from the UK to France, certain restrictions have been imposed. For instance, passengers are no longer allowed to bring items like a ham sandwich, an apple, or cheddar cheese from the UK into France. However, dried and processed plant-based items are generally permitted.

 Furthermore, this restriction extends to ordering a pack of seeds from the UK to be delivered to France, as seeds are subject to plant health regulations. Additionally, second-home owners are prohibited from bringing live garden plants for planting purposes.

Read More: UK Citizens Traveling To Europe To Undergo Fingerprint and Face Scans

What Will Change for Taking Items to the UK?

Currently, the transportation of food from France to the UK does not require any formalities, except for a few regulations concerning pork. However, it is important to note that the potential consequences of this arrangement can be easily foreseen.

The UK has already established its standard regulations for food imports from various regions worldwide, excluding the EU. Interestingly, these regulations closely resemble the rules implemented by the EU for imports from non-member countries.

For instance, the importation of fresh fruit and vegetables from non-EU nations into the UK is generally prohibited unless accompanied by a certificate. However, there are exceptions for certain exotic fruits like coconuts, mangos, and passion fruit.

Furthermore, the importation of meat or meat-based products, as well as milk or milk-based products, is strictly prohibited. Nevertheless, there are allowances for powdered milk and specialized medical foods. It is important to note that these regulations are in place to ensure the safety and quality of imported goods, as well as to protect the health of consumers in the UK.

When the UK-bound checks are implemented, it is likely that British second-home owners or British residents in France who are visiting family in the UK will be unable to bring back French cheeses, charcuterie, fruits and vegetables.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.