Any businesses that are not yet 100% compliant by Sunday’s official deadline are not likely to face any penalty in the short term, however, they will be expected to show that they are working towards the full implementation of the new regulations.
The prospect of a ban on chilled meats entering NI from GB – that was never actually implemented due to grace periods – has now been formally removed.
And although a wide range of measures are being put in place to ensure that products being sold in Northern Ireland, which do not meet European Union standards, will not be sold in the EU single market, there is no prohibition on shoppers from the Republic or Ireland taking their purchases back across the border.
The horticulture industry has been particularly affected by the new regime agreed between the UK and the EU, but it is hoped that a new NI Plant Health Label Scheme (NIPHL) will simplify the process which orginally required full EU certification.
According to Daera, goods “will have a NIPHL attached and will not require a Phytosanitary Certificate, provided the goods meet the conditions of the NIPHL Scheme and that the goods will remain in NI without risk of onward movement to the EU”.
Temporary fixes are said to have been put in place to address many of the outstanding difficulties, but the new rules pose a number of problems for food distributors who sell their products on both sides of the Irish border.
One of the key issues is the requirement to move goods coming into NI from GB, which will ultimately be sold in the Republic (and therefore the EU Single Market) to enter NI through a customs ‘red lane’.
These goods must have full customs documentation and are more likely to be subjected to checks by officials working on behalf of the EU than those entering through the ‘Northern Ireland only’ green lane.