Last reviewed 10 May 2021

The Government must take a pragmatic approach in discussions with the EU to reduce considerable non-tariff barriers — including red tape and checks - that the new GB-EU trading environment has created for British companies.

This is the view of Parliament's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee in its new report, “Seafood and meat exports to the EU”, which can be found at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5801/cmselect/cmenvfru/1189/1189.pdf.

The Committee expresses urgent concerns for exporters of highly time-sensitive fresh and live seafood and meat shipments to the EU, particularly small and medium-sized businesses.

Chairman Neil Parish said: “British businesses have acted with incredible agility and perseverance to adapt to the new processes for exporting meat and seafood to the EU. With the many checks causing delays and costs, this hasn't been easy. We are concerned that in the absence of equivalent checks for imports from the EU to Great Britain, there will be serious long-term repercussions for our producers.”

Despite overcoming initial “teething problems”, as they were branded by the Government, the new barriers small seafood and meat export businesses face could render them unviable, and factories and jobs may relocate to the EU, the report warns.

How to ease the burden

The Committee calls on the Government:

  • as a matter of priority, to seek agreement with the EU on digitising the certification of paperwork such as Export Health Certificates (EHCs)

  • to take a flexible approach to the compensation fund for seafood exporters - including reconsidering the cap of £100,000 on individual payments, and providing similar support to meat exporters

  • to provide the same help to small meat and seafood businesses with the costs of extra red-tape for exports to the EU as they can receive for moving goods to Northern Ireland

  • to establish a ring-fenced fund to help create new distribution hubs, which allow smaller consignments to be grouped into a single lorry load, so reducing transport costs.