Brexit: EU and UK on approval for food exports

Britain has said that it would be “very unusual” for the European Union to stop Brexit food imports amid growing controversy over the issue.

The European Union has doubted whether it will provide the UK a “third country list” for exporting animal-origin products, citing “uncertainties” over its biosecurity controls.

The value of such exports is £ 5bn in the UK.

A government spokesperson said that the right to export is the foundation of any kind of agricultural relationship.

When the country leaves the Single Market and Customs Union at the end of the Brexit transition period on 1 January, firms exporting goods to the UK mainland will face additional checks.

Negotiations on a free trade agreement, which it hopes to eliminate almost all tariffs and reduce other barriers to trade, continue.

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But the two sides differ on a number of key issues and plan to derail the process risks by a sharp line from the UK that allows it to pass so that it can be empowered over the over-ride aspects of the withdrawal agreement.

The European Commission is due to decide in the coming months whether to allow the export of live animals, products of animal origin, such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, and animal by-products to continue.

The licensing of a “third country” to the whole of Britain was seen as a formality, given the EU’s similar arrangement with other countries.


Both sides have already agreed that Northern Ireland will remain in the sanitary and phyto-sanitary “zones” of the European Union.

But following the latest round of negotiations that ended on Thursday, the EU chief negotiator said that “more clarity” was needed about Britain’s own sanitation and disease control procedures before the “assessment” could take place.

Michel Barnier said “many uncertainties” remained about how they would work after December 31.

A spokesman for Downing Street said: “It would be very unusual for the European Union to go down this route and deny the UK list.

“The right to export is the absolute basis of the relationship between two countries trading agricultural commodities. It is a license to export and completely separate from the issue of food standards.”

The European Union accounted for about 60% of all UK food and beverage exports in 2019, although this figure has risen to over 70% five years ago.