Supermarkets will be given a three-month ‘grace period’ from new EU checks in order to avoid disruption to supplies moving from Britain to Northern Ireland after the Brexit deadline.
The new measures will come into place regardless of a Brexit deal on 1st January and will aim to support supermarkets as they adapt to new EU controls. The period will also be extended to six months for chilled meat products.
Supermarkets had faced extra regulatory checks and certifications on animal products entering Northern Ireland from Britain.
The ‘grace period’ is part of an agreement which was reached on the Northern Ireland aspects of the UK’s Brexit negotiations, which also included a trusted trader scheme, which means goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will not face any tariffs.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove outlined the details of the agreement in Parliament on Wednesday, where he explained that Northern Ireland will stay in the EU single market for good but the rest of the UK will leave, meaning a number of food products arriving from NI will need to be checked.
This had previously been a point of concern for a number of supermarkets, with Sainsbury’s chief executive, Simon Roberts, claiming there would be: “a wide range of restricted products that would be at risk.”
Tesco’s chairman, John Allan, also revealed that the supermarket would be stockpiling ‘long-life’ products in order to avoid disruption. Allan told Bloomberg News: “We are trying to ensure that we have stockpiled as much as we can of long-life products either in our own warehouses or with our suppliers.”