British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to impose full customs and border checks on all goods entering the EU from next year in an attempt to increase pressure on the union in trade negotiations. This is written in the Telegraph newspaper, quoted by Reuters and TASS.
“We plan full checks on all imports from the EU – export declarations, security declarations, animal health checks, and all goods for supermarkets to pass through Border Inspection Points,” a government source quoted the newspaper as saying.
“This will double the practical challenge of the border in January 2021,” the source said.
According to previous Brexit government plans without an agreement, if the UK had left the EU abruptly without any trade deal, only a small portion of the goods would have been checked.
The UK left the EU at 23:00 GMT last night with a temporary deal for an 11-month transition period during which Johnson wants to negotiate a free trade agreement, similar to that between Canada and the EU.
British negotiators hope that threats of tighter controls, should a deal not be reached, could very well lead the EU to accept UK conditions, Telegraph notes.
Without a deal, British goods exports will face EU customs duties next year. Even with an agreement, there are likely to be additional checks on both sides of the border, prompting the Bank of England to warn last week of damage to trade and economic growth next year.
The intensity of these checks will affect the costs of UK companies that rely on timely delivery, such as car manufacturers and supermarkets, and some fear that even small delays across borders can make them uncompetitive or reduce buyer choices.
When asked for comment on the Telegraph publication, a spokeswoman from Johnson’s office said a change was inevitable.
“We are leaving the EU Customs Union and the single market. This means that companies will have to prepare for life beyond them,” she said.
The British Chamber of Commerce has announced that the priority for the government should be to continue the free movement of goods through ports after the end of the transitional period.
“The cost goes up with every new procedure or delay – and every pound spent on adapting to the new requirements is a pound less to train, equip or provide new customers,” commented Chamber Chief Executive Adam Marshall.