The British government has pushed back the imposition of border controls on truckloads from Europe yet again, in an attempt to alleviate the shortages of food and other goods that have plagued the UK.
Checks on imports from nations of the European Union are supposed to be part of Brexit, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. They were originally due to be imposed at the beginning of this year. However, they had been pushed back to Oct. 1, and now have been further delayed until the start of 2022.
The UK is suffering from chronic shortages of food, especially meat, that have left bare spots on supermarket shelves for months. It’s being hit with a double whammy. Brexit forced many foreign workers out of the country, since their EU passports no longer gave them an automatic right to work in Britain, leaving factories and truck fleets short of personnel. And the second wave of the pandemic has hit Britain especially hard, making labor even more difficult to come by. According to an industry trade group, the food and drink supply chain – including foodservice and retail employees, as well as farm and factory workers – needs about half a million new workers.
The government’s rollback of border checks met with a mixed reaction. Some exporters are angry that British goods are already subject to EU border checks, while EU goods will continue to be let in without checks; they say this gives the EU an unfair advantage. A trade group said the measure would help but said any advantage would be “fleeting” and called on the government to take more permanent measures.