The Financial Times reports that the EU will immediately implement tough new checks on agri-food products, with no grace period.
While food and farming businesses welcomed the deal but they warned that leaving the customs union and single market in a week’s time would still disrupt the food supply chain.
Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said: “This week’s chaos at Dover and the last gasp nature of this deal means that there will be significant disruption to supply and some prices will rise.”
Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union, said more UK-EU talks were needed to prevent perishable food becoming caught in border queues.
Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, said the arrangements would mean that the UK’s “food chain will be slower, more complex and more expensive for months if not years.”
EU fishing fleets will have a five and a half-year transition period with guaranteed access to UK waters. After that, access will depend on annual negotiations.
During the transition, EU fishing rights in UK waters — currently worth about €650m per year — will be reduced by one quarter, with British quotas increased by a corresponding amount. The shift will boost UK boats’ current share of fishing rights in British waters from about a half to two-thirds.
After the transition, access to waters will depend on annual negotiations, such as those the EU already has with Norway. But the EU will have some leverage: should the UK revoke access, it will be able to take compensatory measures, including hitting UK fish exports with tariffs, and even shutting the UK out of its energy market.
For British hauliers the deal contained mixed blessings. The two sides recognised the validity of each others’ licences and permits and included full transit rights, allowing drivers to cross multiple countries in order to drop a load.
This will enable Irish lorries to use the UK as a “landbridge” to deliver goods into the EU. However, the agreement limits British truckers to a single drop-off and a single pick-up from inside an EU member state and two pick-ups and drop-offs when crossing EU member states – this is a downgrade from EU membership, under which drivers could do three pick-ups inside an EU country before returning home.
Richard Burnett, the head of the Road Haulage Association, said the deal risked decimating the concert haulage industry, which relied on the ability to make multiple trips inside an EU country. “At the moment we have three drop-offs, and this allows one inside a member state and two if travelling between,” he said.
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