Date: 07.04.2021

EU reduce ‘red-tape’ but food exporters face new barriers

The EU is to drop ‘Meursing codes’ from import declarations for manufactured food products coming from the UK in a major reduction of post-Brexit red tape, but new EU legislation covering multi-ingredient food products is expected to increase UK export health certificates by up to 30%.

The additional EU paperwork, which will be required from the 21st April 2021, will also apply to NIR shipments of “shelf-stable” products that contain meat and pasteurised milk and some egg products, requiring a vet-stamped export health certificate. 

Other products, such as cheese and onion crisps, which contain cheese powder, will require pages of “attestation” documents from the shipper detailing the source of the cheese used to flavour the crisps.

The new rules will also apply to chilled products such as sandwiches and ready meals, with estimations that the new rules will require a 36% increase in health certificates, most of which will fall on trade with Ireland, with some exporters questioning whether the new administrative cost can be borne, as even the ‘attestations’ are not simple and can go on for pages and pages for every component in every food.

In better news for British food businesses the EU commission has confirmed to the Food and Drink Federation that import declarations should not require the declaration of Meursing additional codes”, although the move has yet to be confirmed publicly.

The Grocer reported that a private note sent by the European Commission confirmed plans to drop Meursing codes, which require exporters of manufactured foods, confectionary and pizza to calculate the exact percentages of ingredients in order to deduce payable tariffs. 

With 27 products subject to the system, and 504 possible recipes resulting in 13,608 different codes, they’re considered to have a “purely protectionist objective”.

The scheme’s complexity is widely considered to be a non-tariff barrier to trade, deterring businesses who must carry out expensive lab testing prior to export to discover the exact composition of their goods.

The UK’s unilateral decision last month to postpone inbound border checks from the EU until next January delighted importers, but left exporters continuing to face a hard EU border, with all its costs and uncertainties, while their continental competitors benefit from unfettered access to the UK market.

Metro continue to monitor the changing EU/UK trading legislation, regulations and processes, adapting our services and solutions appropriate to the situation and developments.

Our CuDoS customs brokerage platform is optimised continuously, in line with the regimes in force on both sides of the Channel, automating and submitting customs declarations, for simple and compliant border processing in either direction. 

Please contact Andrew White, who is leading our customs and brokerage business unit, for further information and assistance on these or any other border controls, in our new trading environment with the EU.