The rollout of stringent checks on Brits entering the EU after Brexit will lead to severe delays at the border, warns a new report published today by a group of cross-party MPs.
An expected recovery from the depths of the pandemic in the volume of Brits heading to the Continent could lead to cars and lorries piling up outside the port of Dover, the Public Accounts Committee said.
“There is potential for disruption at the border,” the Committee said, caused by tougher border controls.
Delays will be worsened by “further checks at ports as part of the EU’s new Entry and Exit system and especially at ports like Dover where EU officials carry out border checks on the UK side,” the Committee added.
EU officials have started rolling out the Entry and Exit system – which will see travellers entering the bloc from Britain registering fingerprints and facial photos – at British ports.
Tighter trade arrangements since Brexit have “created additional costs for businesses and affected international trade flows,” the Committee said.
Heavier trade burdens add to the list of rising costs weighing firms down, raising further concerns over inflationary pressures becoming embedded in the UK economy. Businesses are battling higher raw material and labour costs and face a 1.25 percentage point national insurance hike in April.
The report comes a day after the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said three to four hours queues at Dover are set to become part of the post-Brexit new normal.
According to the RHA’s executive director for policy and public affairs, new regulations will create “friction where none existed”.
“Any change is uncomfortable,” he told PA news agency. “That’s part of leaving the European Union and having to do new border custom checks.”
Despite the increase in trade bottlenecks, the industry said the situation is not as bad as once thought, but could worsen after animal and plant health inspections are introduced.
Robert Ballantyne, chief executive of the British Ports Association, told City A.M. they “are awaiting details of the volumes of inspections that port health officers will conduct on goods.”