LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will introduce border checks with the European Union in stages from Jan. 1, reversing an original plan so it can now give companies struggling with the coronavirus crisis more time to fill out forms and pay tariffs.
FILE PHOTO: A general view shows vehicles arriving at port on Brexit day, in Dover, Britain January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo
The government said for the first six months of 2021 the new requirements would be introduced in stages, recognising the impact of COVID-19 as companies prepare for new customs systems with Britain’s biggest trading partner.
This is a U-turn from February when Britain said it planned to introduce import controls on EU goods at the border once a status-quo transition period with the EU ends on Dec. 31.
Companies have long called on the government to give them more clarity about what new border checks will be in force, with critics saying Britain was not ready to operate its own customs system, lacking both the personnel and infrastructure.
But the government said it would not extend the transition period that began when Britain left the bloc in January. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, speaking before his department announced the new measures, said London had informed the EU of this on Friday.
“The moment for extension has now passed,” he added, after the leaders of Scotland and Wales appeal