Bangers & Mash in Danger for EU Under Johnson’s Brexit Plan
Boris Johnson, U.K. prime minister, left, and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, depart following Brexit talks at a restaurant in Luxembourg. (Photographer: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Bloomberg)

Bangers & Mash in Danger for EU Under Johnson’s Brexit Plan

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The U.K. is due to lose the ability to sell fresh sausages to the European Union after Brexit, a sign of the economic upheaval that comes from quitting the bloc’s single market.

Products of animal origin entering the EU from a non-member country require an export health certificate, but no such certificate exists for goods termed a “meat preparation,” like fresh sausages or mince.

“As it stands, you couldn’t export sausages into the EU,” said Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, speaking to reporters at a roundtable in London. “There simply isn’t a certificate you could match your product to.”

It is an indicator of the disruption to trade that looms for Britain and the EU when they start their new economic relationship in 2021. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to negotiate a quick free trade agreement with the bloc similar to the EU-Canada arrangement, which would eliminate tariffs on goods but create new non-tariff barriers like extra customs paperwork.

Export health certificates, which show that an animal product complies with EU standards, are an example of a non-tariff barrier.

Johnson has ruled out being a rule-taker from the EU after Brexit, meaning it won’t automatically adopt the bloc’s rules and standards. Consequently U.K. exports to the EU are due to face full customs checks, particularly in areas like food, to ensure they comply with EU law.

To get around the lack of an export health certificate for fresh sausages, meat processors would have to freeze the product to -18 degrees Celsius, but that would devalue the goods, said Peter Hardwick, trade policy adviser at the British Meat Processors Association. A solution would be agreement on a new bilateral export health certificate, which is unlikely given the tight time-frame for talks and Johnson’s unwillingness to align with EU laws, Hardwick said.

“If the U.K. is looking for a basic FTA, it probably won’t get a deal on this sort of thing,” he said.

The U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs didn’t respond to a request for comment outside of normal working hours.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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