Never mind the sausages, what about the parcels?
Sausage Wars may be capturing the headlines, but that’s not the only urgent deadline facing UK-EU negotiators. The extension to the NI Protocol grace period expected to be announced this week must include parcels, urges ParcelHero.
In March, the UK government announced it was unilaterally extending the grace period on parcels and home deliveries to Northern Ireland (NI) for six months. That self-declared deadline was set for the end of September. However, a new government announcement on the extension of numerous checks is expected as early as Tuesday. ParcelHero says the new delays must include suspending the introduction of full Customs declarations paperwork and extra Customs procedures on parcels being sent from Great Britain to NI.
ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘Sausage Wars may be the sizzling hot topic, but it’s not only the banning of some meat products that needs resolving urgently.
‘There was a period of chaos at the beginning of the year as stores such as John Lewis stopped delivering to customers in NI. This was only ended with the UK’s unilateral decision to extend the grace period on deliveries. However, it was met with fury by the European Union (EU), which launched legal proceedings against the UK government.
‘This time, a proper negotiated delay, agreed by the EU and the UK is essential to end fears of further delivery chaos.
‘Under the government’s own self-declared deadline, the grace period for business-to-business (B2B) deliveries was extended until 1 October. After that date, full documentation, procedures and checks were set to be imposed, just as if the items were being shipped to the EU.
‘The government also declared that, for all other deliveries, such as business to customer (B2C), companies will be given six months to prepare for new arrangements from an agreed date at the end of the grace period.
‘New agreed delays will be the acid test of the government’s Northern Ireland Protocol agreement which, at its core, stipulated that there would be no new checks on goods crossing the border between NI and the Republic of Ireland (ROI).
‘Put simply, it was not possible to guarantee unfettered shipments once the decision had been taken that NI would remain in the EU’s single market for goods even after the rest of the UK left.
‘If private individuals and retailers are forced to complete the comprehensive Customs documentation, potentially having to supply proof of origin of the items and even their individual components, new checks will be inevitable to ensure the shippers have given the correct details.
‘A fair solution for parcels between GB and NI requires even more food for thought than the sausage conundrum. It’s hard to conceive of a solution that will satisfy UK retailers and manufacturers, individuals sending parcels to friends and family in NI, and EU negotiators.
‘Things are already a lot more complicated than they were pre-Brexit. NI-based businesses receiving goods valued at £135 or more through an express carrier or Royal Mail must submit a Customs declaration within three months of receiving the goods. It’s all extra red tape that increases costs for businesses.
‘ParcelHero’s in-depth analysis of the ongoing UK-EU trade problems and, in particular, the powder keg Northern Ireland Protocol agreement, can be seen at: https://www.parcelhero.com/research/brexit-study