Post-Brexit border control problems raised in NAO report

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Changes in import control plans following the UK’s exit from the European Union have caused uncertainty for businesses and extra costs for government and ports, according to a National Audit Office (NAO) report.

A partial import control regime is in place after the implementation of full controls was delayed five times since the end of the EU exit transition period on Dec. 31, 2020. The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in 2016.

The latest phase of checks on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) goods came into force on April 30, 2024, with further controls to come later. This included introducing documents, identity, and physical checks on medium-risk SPS products.

According to the report, estimates show a spend of at least £4.7 billion (U.S. $6 billion) to implement new arrangements and improve management of the border.

Biosecurity risk
Repeated delays in introducing import controls and difficulties forecasting requirements have resulted in government expenditure on infrastructure and staff that were not needed. NAO said Port Health Authorities (PHAs) recruited about 520 staff to undertake SPS checks, 370 of which were not required. Some of these staff were redeployed into other vacant positions.

NAO found that the loss of access to EU surveillance and alert systems reduces the UK’s awareness of impending dangers, and the phased approach to introducing full controls has increased biosecurity risk. Ongoing uncertainties and differences in port readiness mean that SPS controls may operate on an inconsist... shares this Content with License.

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Post-Brexit border control problems raised in NAO report