On August 31, The Times reported that the United Kingdom Government admitted that it had yet to apply to the European Commission (EC) for regulatory clearance that would be required for selling animal products to the European Union (EU) should the United Kingdom follow through on an October 31 deadline should a “no-deal” Brexit take place. According to The Times, countries that wish to export live animals and animal products to the EU must obtain “listed status” from the EC “and can take as long as six months to secure.”
The United Kingdom was last granted in April 2019, five months after applying for it, but that status lapsed after the Brexit deadline was moved to October 31. A spokeswoman for the United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs stated that “we are confident the UK will continue to meet the [EC’s] requirements,” but admitted that the government had not yet reapplied for listed status.
Note: Regardless of one’s position on the virtues or vices of Brexit in any form, this failure by government under two Prime Ministers to reapply in timely fashion for listed status could lead to substantial, if not catastrophic, harm to Britain’s food and drink producers. According to The Times, “Britain’s food and drink exports to the EU are worth £22 billion. The biggest include chocolate, cheese, salmon and beef, all of which would be affected.”
With less than two months to October 31, the government needs to reapply for listed status immediately, and hope that the EC and the EU are willing to expedite consideration and approval of that application. Given the continuing turmoil stemming from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s efforts to suspend Parliament and his promise to intensify negotiations with the EU for a new Brexit agreement, it is far from clear that the EC will be so accommodating.