UK not ready for rolling post-Brexit controls on EU imports, says watchdog

Land Transport

Source: Politico, 2021-11-05

The UK has more work to do before it can introduce post-Brexit controls on EU imports in 2022, a public spending watchdog said.

In a report published on 5 November, the National Audit Office said work to prepare British traders for import controls was not complete — and departments might have had to deploy contingency plans had the government not delayed the introduction of full checks on EU goods three times.

The delays have effectively created a transitional period for traders. They are now expected to be fully in place by July 2022, with some requirements starting in January. At the time ministers announced the third extension, the government argued it was ready for the controls but the move was necessary to give businesses more time to prepare. 

“We recognise the significant achievement of government, departments and third parties in delivering the initial operating capability needed at the border for the end of the transition period,” said Gareth Davies, Head of the NAO.

“However, this was done in part by using interim measures and by delaying the introduction of full import controls. Much more work is needed to put in place a model for the border that reduces the risk of non-compliance with international trading rules, does not require any temporary fixes and is less complicated and burdensome for border users.”

The NAO also warned UK ports do not yet have the infrastructure needed to carry out checks next year because of uncertainty regarding the nature of arrangements that need to be put in place, difficulties finding the right locations for these facilities and funding uncertainty in the case of sites in Scotland and Wales.

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