Sunday, 13 Jun 2021

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Brexit: Drivers have sandwiches confiscated at Dutch border

A senior diplomat suggested EU countries could reconsider the meat and cheese ban and bring an end to customs officials confiscating packed lunches from British truckers. Post-Brexit biosecurity rules prevent certain food products being brought into the EU without special authoritarian. But the insider said No 10 and Brussels would soon open talks to paper over cracks in the UK-EU trade deal “which doesn’t cover everything”.

They admitted negotiations would have to be held because disruptions are still holding up cross-Channel business, saying: “It’s clear that things are not running as smoothly yet.”

The diplomat added: “It’s quite clear that not everybody on the Continental side was prepared very much for all of the red tape.”

Any fresh UK-EU wrangling is expected to focus on areas not covered in the 1,246-page Trade and Cooperation agreement, special customs facilitations to reduce friction at the border.

This could include negotiating special permissions to allow British products containing meat or dairy into the EU, the diplomat said.

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Downing Street would have to make long-term promises not to adopt lower food standards, the source added.

The insider said: “There might be questions about confiscating sandwiches at the border.

“Could we in the future discuss issues to have less frictions, of course, this is all in the governance structures in the TCA.

“But to discuss further facilitation, one way or another, to reduce friction also depends on what the UK is doing and where they want to go.

“If I read about ‘Singapore on Thames’ and increasing the working week beyond 48 hours – I don’t think that is is a good sign to have discussions on all all the outstanding issues.”

A second diplomat said the EU was “keeping the door open for facilitation and exploring options in that respect”.

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The source added: “Whether that could apply to the ham sandwich? We’ll see. Perhaps.”

The considerations come after Dutch customs officers were filmed laughing at British drivers as they confiscated his ham sandwiches at the border.

An officer at the Hook of Holland seaport mocked the trucker, saying: “Welcome to Brexit, sir”.

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Dutch TV aired footage of the officials wearing hi-vis jackets taking tin foil-wrapped food away from drivers arriving by ferry.

One bemused Briton was told “everything will be confiscated” when he asked whether it was ok to keep just the bread.

EU rules ban meat, meat products, milk and diary products being brought in from outside the bloc for “personal consumption”.

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