Exporting Food to the EU

This is something I have been concerned about for some time now. Last week it was announced that the PAFF committee had given a favourable view on a commission implementing decision to “list” the UK and allow the UK to export food and feed of animal origin into the EU. That is not really the end of the story though, because once the country is listed (and it isn’t listed until exit day, they have just decided to list it) that means that the three competent authorities (The FSA will be the competent authority for England and Wales, DEARA for 
Northern Ireland and FSS for Scotland.
) can start to submit lists of establishments. This takes 20+10 working days for a two step notification process where the proposed change is circulated to member states, then published before imports may be accepted from those establishments. The UK agrees with this timeframe if you look at the guidance on exporting and also the flowcharts where the listing step needs to “allow at least 6 weeks”.

It wasn’t quite clear to me if the two periods could be overlapped or if there was any plan to shortcut the whole process for Brexit, so I asked:

Concerning Article 12 4. (b) of regulation 854/2004

“If no Member State objects to the new or updated list within 20 working days of the Commission’s notification, imports shall be authorised from establishments appearing on the list 10 working days after the day on which the Commission makes it available to the public.”

Is it possible for the 20 days and 10 days to overlap? So in the Brexit scenario the lists provided by the UK could go to member states, then provisionally be made available to the public after the first 10 working days and then the 10 day period and 20 day period would end on the same day so that imports to the EU from the UK could happen from 20 days after their competent authorities submit lists of establishments.

Today I got a reply:

Dear Alan Bell,

Thank you for contacting the Europe Direct Contact Centre.

When there is a request for a modification to the Non-EU country establishments list and there are no objections from any of the EU countries within 20 working days to these requests, the new draft list is published on the DG SANTE website.

The updated list will come into force 10 working days after the publication date.
Please find this and more information from here: https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/international_affairs/trade/non-eu-countries_en

In other words, the commission first notifies the competent authorities of the member states, which have 20 days to object. After these 20 days pass without objections, the list is also made available to the public. 10 days after the publication, the imports from the authorised establishments can take place.

We hope you find this information useful. Please contact us again if you have other questions about the European Union, its activities or institutions.

So there will be no exports of food or feed of animal origin until halfway through December unless something happens between now and then to solve this problem.

Earlier this week Minister George Eustace lied to a House of Commons committee and told them that there would be no trouble on day one as country level listing had been approved. He didn’t disclose the fact that establishments need to be listed and that there is a statutory timescale for that. There doesn’t appear to be anything in the withdrawal agreement that would lead to this requirement being waived, so even if the withdrawal agreement is voted through it appears that no establishments in the UK will be authorised to export any products of animal origin.

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