As we head into the second month of the UK trading outside of the single market, there are more Brexit issues emerging, largely due to the rushed decision that the deal turned out to be. The first week of February sees animal food checks suspended at Larne and Belfast ports over security concerns, and the UK shellfish industry fearing its collapse as the EU places a ban on the exports of unpurified shellfish.
The NI Protocol
The Northern Ireland Protocol has been a controversial issue throughout the Brexit negotiations. After much debate over Boris Johnson wanting to break the international law back in 2020, his initial plans were withdrawn. Towards the end of last year, it was agreed that the Northern Ireland Protocol would come into place whereby EU products are permitted to be exported to NI without checks, leaving the NI in the single market. However, there is a regulatory border between NI and Great Britain as GB no longer follows the EU law. This regulatory border has been called the Irish Sea border.
In recent days, the NI Protocol has been causing more and more unrest in NI due to the Irish Sea border slowing food supplies deliveries to the country. There has been graffiti painted in some loyalist areas of the NI, opposing the border checks. What followed was the Mid and East Antrim Council withdrawing staff from Brexit animal food inspection duties at Larne port over security concerns, explaining that there has been some “menacing behaviour” coming from those opposed to the NI Protocol.
To protect the safety and well-being of the staff at these border checks, namely at Larne and Belfast ports, the animal food checks have been suspended.
In a statement, the council said there had been an “upsurge in sinister behaviour” in recent weeks, including what appeared to be attempts to gather workers’ personal information, including vehicle registration plates.
With “simmering tensions” within the local community, the East Antrim leader says the NI Protocol needs to go.
With the suspension of checks, concerns over disruption to the NI food supply chain have been raised.
EU bans shellfish exports from the UK
Whilst Northern Ireland is facing its own Brexit issues, the UK shellfish industry fears a total collapse as their main source of business, the EU, bans exports of shellfish from the UK.
Up until this point shellfish trade between the UK and the EU was worth £430 million a year, making the EU an important business partner within this industry. Normally, the shellfish harvested in the UK are purified and processed on the continent in preparation to be distributed to restaurants, mainly in France and Spain.
But, the British shellfish industry body has received a letter from the European Commission stating that the exports of unpurified cockles, mussels and other bivalve molluscs, which accounts for the vast bulk of exports from England and Wales, is “strictly forbidden”.
“We’ve come to the end of the road. We just don’t know what to do. The Government have got to get hold of this with both hands because they have properly screwed this up.”, said
Rob Benson, the director of Kingfisher Seafoods Ltd, which has been exporting shellfish from Morecambe Bay since 2004.
“We’ve never had this problem before with the EU. This is total destruction. This is just absolutely destroying us. I guarantee the industry will collapse. It’s pretty much everything. It’s a total ban.”, he added.
A spokesman for Defra said it would “continue to raise the issue” with the EU “to ensure the trade can continue securely”.
As seen by the two examples above, Brexit issues are present in various industries and areas of the UK- EU trade. Your business is important to us, here at UKCS, and we are ready to help you prosper despite the difficulties. Get in touch to see how we can help!