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The UK government has announced a fifth delay to post-Brexit checks on EU imports amid concerns the new system would fuel food inflation. The first stage of the new border controls, which have already been delayed four times, was due to be rolled out this October but now won’t be implemented until January 2024. The UK government says this the timetable is being revised to give businesses more time to prepare for the changes, which include more health and safety checks on food and animal products entering the country.
In April 2023, the UK government published a draft ‘Border Target Operating Model’, applicable to imports from all countries into Great Britain, including the EU. In it, they outlined how their proposals sought to balance the need for effective border controls with the need to support businesses with import processes that are as simple as possible.
After feedback from stakeholders and attendees at workshops and seminars, businesses and the border industry highlighted where further detail was needed to prepare for the model and set out a range of challenges that implementation of the new model would present. These were focussed both on new complexity and costs that would be introduced into the supply chain, as well as the timing of the introduction of new controls. In particular, businesses highlighted that their supply-chains would need time to adapt to new controls. This was particularly important in relation to the requirement for health certification which will require action from EU suppliers.
In response to this feedback, the UK government has decided to push back some of the implementation milestones for the Border Target Operating Model in order to give businesses more time to prepare. They say they will implement the Border Target Operating Model from January 2024 onwards, beginning with the introduction of health certification on relevant EU goods. This will bring the launch of the Border Target Operating Model closer to the upcoming simplification of border requirements through the new UK Single Trade Window. They say they have also sought to respond to stakeholder feedback to improve the wider model and provide further detail on its implementation.