EU approves EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: effective from May 1, 2021
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EU approves EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: effective from May 1, 2021

On April 28, the EU voted in favour of the already provisionally applied Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) which sets the rules for EU-UK trade. It went into effect on May 1, 2021.

On December 24, 2020, EU and UK negotiators agreed on a comprehensive Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). Among other things, the Agreement provides for the mutual waiver of all duties and quantitative restrictions and has already been applied provisionally since January 1, 2021.

Ratification: the start of a new chapter in UK-EU relations

The scheduled ratification of the Agreement was postponed from the end of February to the end of April. Already at the beginning of March, the British government extended the transitional period for the introduction of customs controls between the British mainland and Northern Ireland, contrary to the provision in the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Agreement. Customs controls in the movement of goods with Northern Ireland should have been introduced from the end of March. This has now been postponed until October by the British government. In response, Brussels initiated infringement proceedings, which are still ongoing. Commission President  Ursula von der Leyen addressed the issue in her speech on April 27 and also mentioned the sanctions mechanism enshrined in the Brexit agreement, which the EU is willing to use if necessary. At the same time, however, she reaffirmed the strong partnership between both parties intended by the Agreement. This is of great importance to an overwhelming majority of the members of the European parliament, and so the Trade and Cooperation Agreement was approved by 660 votes out of 697 cast. The vote was confirmed by the Council of the European Union on April 29. As a result, the TCA has been fully effective as from May 1, 2021. Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the European Parliament's approval of the Brexit Agreement and, like Lord Frost, also spoke of a "new chapter."

A quick glance at the new timeline

The impact of the COVID 19 pandemic is the reason for the postponements in the implementation of border controls announced in a press release by the Cabinet Office on March 11. Lord Frost of Allenton explains: "We will now introduce border controls broadly six months later than planned to give traders time to focus on getting back on their feet as the economy opens up after a difficult year." 

October 1, 2021: Products of Animal Origin (POAO)

Pre-notification requirements for Products of Animal Origin (POAO), certain animal by-products (ABP), and High Risk Food Not Of Animal Origin (HRFNAO) will not be required until 1 October 2021. Export Health Certificate requirements for POAO and certain ABP will come into force on the same date.

Until January 1, 2022: Supplementary import declarations possible

Customs import declarations will still be required, but the option to use the deferred declaration scheme, including submitting supplementary declarations up to six months after the goods have been imported, has been extended to 1 January 2022.
Note: Safety and Security Declarations for imports will also not be required until 1 January 2022.

From January 2022: More checks on POAO and high-risk plants

Physical SPS checks for POAO, certain ABP, and HRFNAO will not be required until 1 January 2022. At that point they will take place at Border Control Posts.
Physical SPS checks on high risk plants will take place at Border Control Posts, rather than at the place of destination as now, from 1 January 2022.
Pre-notification requirements and documentary checks, including phytosanitary certificates will be required for low risk plants and plant products, and will be introduced from 1 January 2022.

From March 2022:

From March 2022, checks at Border Control Posts will take place on live animals and low risk plants and plant products.

"Border Operating Model" is being revised 

On the GOV.UK website, a guide on the "Border Operating Model" explains the individual stages in more detail and reference to the new timetable announced by the British government is made. It is expected that the Customs Guide will be available in updated form shortly.

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