Tue. Nov 29th, 2022


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Brussels’ draconian red tape leaves UK businesses ‘abandoned’ by EU partners

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British exporters are slowly falling victim to the extra paperwork and costs demanded by Brussels when shipping their goods to the Continent. Cheese exports have been particularly hit hard because of the requirements of costly certificates on packages sent to the EU’s single market. Derbyshire Stilton producers at the Hartington Creamery have said its fresh and perishable products have been particularly impacted by the rules.

Abigail Spurrell, a dairy farmer, told Euronews: “You have the implications of it going out of date, the ‘use by’ date, and then it goes off, then you’re throwing loads of cheese away, which obviously is heartbreaking – because obviously all your work is just gone.”

Her father, Simon, Hartington’s director, added: “We were promised the frictionless deal, that trade would continue exactly as it had before, and it was all complete and utter lies because what we’re seeing is the total and utter opposite of that.”

The firm’s European business has been “completely and utterly wiped out”, according to Mr Spurrell.

He said the new costs – £180 per certificate, per destination, are unaffordable.

With the costs per consignment rising from £300 to £1,500, it is no longer economically viable for the firm to trade with Europe.

It also takes five people three to four hours to process the paperwork for every transaction sent to the EU’s single market.

“Our partners in Europe have said ‘I’m sorry you’re just too difficult to deal with’, and they’ve abandoned us,” Mr Spurrell said.

The lost business means a quarter of Hartington’s turnover has vanished since January 1.

The British Government has advised the cheese producer to look into setting up an operation on the Continent to get around the EU’s draconian rules.

Mr Spurrell said: “They’re on our doorstep, they are already a market we know. We did have three distributors in Europe and that was naturally going to be our growth.”

He said his business has received four approaches from Holland, France, Germany and Poland to set up a hub there.

But the firm ultimately decided it was too expensive and complained the Government had also failed to give them assurances that it was a safe option.

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“As a small business, we can’t act upon something that our own government can’t offer any assurances for,” Mr Spurrell added.

“They couldn’t guarantee that there wouldn’t be a trade war in the future. They blamed everything on the EU, and said that it was them that was the problem and not the UK Government.

“In fact, we know that it’s in equal measures, really, there is a 50-50 split between the two of them, and they are not willing to compromise in any way, shape or form.”

Brussels introduced a full customs border with the UK after the end of the post-Brexit transition period on January 1.

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This is despite the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement paving the way for zero tariff and quota-free trade between the two destinations.

Britain has since delayed the introduction of Brexit controls on food and animal products arriving from the EU.

The measures were due to come into force in January but are being postponed until July 2022.

This makes it easier for British businesses to import goods from Europe in the wake of Brexit.

The EU has always refused to offer similar assistance to British firms looking to export into the bloc.

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