Brexit and sanitary and phytosanitary controls
Depending on the outcome of the Brexit process (the UK’s exit has been put back to no later than 31 October 2019), it is possible to envisage a range of consequences in the area of sanitary and phytosanitary import and export controls on trade with the United Kingdom.

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Sanitary and phytosanitary controls on goods imported from the united kingdom into the European union entering via france (PDF, 833.65 Ko)

 

What are the possible consequences of Brexit on sanitary and phytosanitary import and export controls?

In the absence of a withdrawal agreement including a period of transition and therefore with an exit with no agreement on the relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom, it would be necessary to put border controls in place on live animals, plants and animal products arriving from the United Kingdom with a destination in the EU. The UK authorities could also require sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) certification for EU exports in those categories with a destination in their own country before departure of the goods.
In the event that a withdrawal agreement is passed before 31 October 2019, UK SPS regulations would remain aligned with those of the EU, and this would allow free movement to be maintained for animal products, plants and live animals between the United Kingdom and the EU up to 31 December 2020. Beyond that date, if SPS regulations remain aligned between the EU and the United Kingdom, this would mean that live animals, plants and animal products could continue to be moved freely. Recognition of equivalence of the SPS systems is also a possible option: this would allow the scope of SPS border controls to be limited, although it would not remove them entirely.

At what date would sanitary and phytosanitary controls on goods traded with the United Kingdom need to be put in place?

In the event that a withdrawal agreement is passed before 31 October 2019, it would be certain that the United Kingdom would be part of the single market and the customs union up to 31 December 2020, which could continue until 31 December 2022 at the latest, thus avoiding the need for sanitary and phytosanitary border controls or export certification up to that date.
In the absence of a withdrawal agreement, controls would need to be put in place from 1 November 2019. Likewise, export certification could be required by the United Kingdom from that same date.
What do sanitary and phytosanitary import controls involve?
SPS import controls on consignments arriving from third countries are applied at the border at the first point of entry into the EU. Those controls must be conducted in specific inspection facilities approved by the European Commission – border control posts – construction of which is the responsibility of the management of the point of entry (port concession holders, for example). The controls are defined by EU regulations and are carried out ahead of customs procedures. They involve a document check on the (phyto)sanitary certificate, and this may be supplemented by identity and physical checks, requiring the actual presence of the consignment at the border post (these may be random or systematic for certain types of trade such as livestock).

What does sanitary and phytosanitary export certification involve?

Regarding exports to third countries, certificates are required for products and animals before the goods are despatched. This means that consignments must be accompanied by certificates attesting to compliance with the required (phyto)sanitary conditions laid down by the country of destination. Those certificates are prepared by the regional food and agriculture authorities (DRAAFs) for plants and by the authority for social cohesion and public protection in the French département (DD(CS)PP) for animals and products of animal origin.

How is the Ministry of Agriculture and Food preparing for Brexit’s possible consequences for sanitary and phytosanitary controls?

While awaiting the outcome of the Brexit process, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food is preparing for the possible implementation of SPS border controls on trade flows with the United Kingdom, potentially commencing on 1 November 2019. The Ministry is cooperating closely with the managers of uthe french points of entry on the Channel/North Sea coast with a view to setting up additional border control posts or resizing already existing inspection facilities. A strengthening of the Ministry’s human resources is also planned for the implementation of additional activities relating to import controls and export certification that might be required in connection with Brexit.

Other sources of information:

Brexit preparedness notices drafted by the European Commission (cf. “HEALTH” section).