Belgium ready to launch extra checks on UK exports

Belgium’s Food Safety Agency, the FAVV, is ready to check all exports and imports of food, animals and plants to and from the United Kingdom.  In all 115 new inspectors have been hired.  The Belgian Food Safety Agency currently employs 1,400 people, 600 working in external roles.  Starting 1 January 2021 the UK is seen as a third country necessitating strict checks on the import and export of food products, livestock and plants.

The UK left the EU on 1 February 2020.  The subsequent transition period during which most rules remained unchanged is soon coming to an end.  Britain is now leaving the internal market, so cherished by Margaret Thatcher, as well as the customs union requiring customs forms to be filled in.

The new situation is going to have an enormous impact on businesses that will have to fulfil customs requirements.  Belgian customs officers too will have to carry out checks.  To meet the demand extra customs staff to have already been hired.

The long list of products that will have to be checked includes food products, animals, animal products, plants and vegetable products.  The products and accompanying certificates will all have to be checked.  Only meat and dairy originating from UK businesses recognised by the EU will be let through.

Checks will ensure that products meet European standards on the use of antibiotics and hormones. All individual livestock will have to be checked by a vet to ensure no diseased animals enter the EU from Britain and animal diseases are not transmitted.

The FAVV expects that it’s especially exports to Britain that will create extra work. Britain is an important importer of EU food products that include many delicious foods from Belgium, but for exporters a lot confusion remains.  The UK has plans to introduce its border check regime gradually so according to VRT’s Europe editor Rob Heirbaut “it’s not yet entirely clear which certificates will be required to export to the UK.”

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