Britain Urges EU To Ease Seafood Import Restrictions

Britain on Wednesday says its domestic economy has been damaged by European Union (EU) import bans on certain seafood, just weeks after its departure from the bloc was finalised.

“There is no scientific or technical justification for the European Commission to ban the import of live bivalve molluscs from Class B waters,” a spokeswoman for Britain’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) told dpa.

“This is already impacting business and damaging markets on both sides of the channel,’’ she added.

According to an EU classification, Class A waters are the cleanest, followed by Class B. Molluscs from Class A waters can be imported into the EU without first being cleaned, according to regulations.

Most British waters, however, are Class B.

The EU prohibits the import of certain shellfish such as Category B  from Britain, as well as from other non-member countries.

The rationale is that Britain’s food standards and monitoring could have diverged after it left the EU, and that these seafood products are particularly sensitive from a health perspective.

Britain is urgently calling for a solution to this problem, the spokeswoman said, and has asked the commission for a meeting.

Britain finally left the EU’s single market at the beginning of the year.

The two sides agreed in principle to duty-free trade in their laboriously negotiated pact.

Nevertheless, a number of new controls and formalities are necessary at the borders, which places a massive burden on many traders.