EXTENSION TO ‘SUPERMARKET GRACE PERIOD’ FOR NI FOOD MOVEMENTS

You may have seen reports that this afternoon the UK announced its decision to unilaterally extend the ‘grace period’ in which ‘authorised traders and their suppliers’ can move meat, dairy and plant products into Northern Ireland from GB without the full SPS certification so long as they are for consumption solely in NI. The easement was due to end on 1 April 2021 and (as far as the UK government is concerned) will stay in force until at least 1 October 2021.

The full details of what they are proposing to implement is set out here https://bit.ly/3890dL9

However over the period to 1 October the UK Government will be seeking to set up its Digital Assistance Scheme to create IT and automated processes for the certification requirements. They set out a four phase process that will means certification requirements will start at different times for different types of product, much has already been the case for chilled meats since the 22nd February. There are no timeframes for this phasing but they will commence after October 2021.

The EU has now issued a strong statement condemning the move, suggesting that the move is indeed unilateral and that the EU was not expecting it. The recourse they have will be legal action, and they have no actual power to force the UK to cease this action. The main downside of all of this is that if there was any hope of further moves to make it easier to export into mainland EU through things like a veterinary agreement then they are on the backburner for the foreseeable future.

We will hear more about this move later this week and the consequences will play out in coming weeks.  Implications we should be alive to that the EU / ROI will unlikely to be motivated to make it easier to ship out of Dublin forcing more GB/NI and NI/GB trade onto the Belfast and Larne routes. Also there remains grey areas over how ‘authorised traders’ moving goods for both supermarkets and hospitality will be treated under the STANMI rules. That will be really tested as NI and UK brings hospitality trade out of lockdown,.

We will stay close to developments and brief you all more fully at our next Brexit Briefing on Friday 12th March at 10am – register here – https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8495011967538810895

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