Following the announcement on 28 April 2022 that the remaining import controls on EU goods, including plants and plant products, will no longer be introduced this year, the Defra Plant Health Team have created a dedicated Q&A to provide further details around what this means for trade. The Q&A is available to download here.
The top lines are as follows:
- Since 1 January 2021, GB has operated its own sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regime, which is focused on addressing the risks it faces. This regime includes risk-based import checks of plants, plant products and other objects to avoid the introduction of harmful plant pests and diseases. These risk-based checks are in line with WTO/SPS principles and consistent with our obligations under the EU Withdrawal Act.
- The UK Government took the decision to introduce SPS checks in phases to protect GB biosecurity whilst maintaining the efficient trade in goods such as plants and plant products. Therefore, checks of high-priority plants and plant products, which pose the greatest potential risk to GB biosecurity, started at Places of Destination from 1 January 2021.
- The strict controls introduced in January 2021 and 2022 on the highest risk imports of plants and plant products from the EU will continue to apply, to safeguard the UK’s biosecurity.
- We constantly review whether further safeguards are needed and have a scientific process to assess the changing threats to plant biosecurity. For example, on 29 April 2022, we introduced new safeguards to strengthen our import measures against the threat of Pine Processionary Moth in response to recent interceptions on trees imported from France. Pine Processionary Moth poses a serious risk to pine and cedar trees and presents a threat to human and animal health.
- The remaining import controls on EU goods will not be introduced from July 2022. Further controls will be introduced in 2023. We will publish a Target Operating Model in the Autumn (2022) that will set out how and when we will introduce an improved global regime of all border import controls. It will be based on a further assessment of risk and will harness the power of data and technology. We will target the end of 2023 as the date when this new controls regime will be delivered.
- We will set out in more detail in the Target Operating Model, but our new approach to controls will aim to create a seamless new ‘digital’ border, where technologies and real-time data will cut queues and smooth trade. This new approach will ensure that we implement controls for plants and plant products in a way which supports businesses.
- Plants and plant products eligible for trade continue to move freely in both directions, with no significant issues reported. It has not been necessary to make use of surge capacity or other contingency resources so far since 1 January 2021, when new import and export controls came in for GB-EU trade.
- Performing checks of high-priority plants at Places of Destination has afforded flexibility to businesses as they have adjusted to the new requirements for EU imports, minimising friction at the border, while protecting GB biosecurity.