British travellers were left bemused as Dutch customs officers confiscated ham and cheese sandwiches as they entered Holland.
Post-Brexit rules ban the import of meat and dairy products into the EU – with the UK government warning travellers to “use, consume, or dispose of” any items before crossing the border.
But footage broadcast on Dutch TV shows customs officers informing baffled drivers of the new rules – and taking their sandwiches away.
Officials at the ferry terminal at the Hook of Holland were shown explaining to drivers that “you are no longer allowed to bring certain foods to Europe, like meat, fruit, vegetables, fish, that kind of stuff.”
Asked if they could just seize the ham and leave the bread, one official said: “No, everything will be confiscated. Welcome to Brexit, sir. I’m sorry.”
The rules don’t apply to products transported between EU countries. And Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland are also exempt from the regulations.
Guidance from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs states: “From 1 January 2021 you will not be able to bring POAO (products of an animal origin) such as those containing meat or dairy (e.g. a ham and cheese sandwich) into the EU.”
Meanwhile, Hauliers are warning that freight delays will escalate this week as more firms attempt to send lorries abroad.
Rod McKenzie, director of policy and public affairs at the Road Haulage Association (RHA), told the PA news agency he is “very worried” about the impact of post-Brexit customs checks when cross-Channel trips reaching normal levels by Wednesday.
He said: “It’s got to happen.
“Traders have been holding off sending lorries into harm’s way, because they wanted to see what other people’s problems were so they could learn from them.
“But you can’t keep doing that forever, you’ve got to trade. There will come a nail-biting moment when people bite the bullet and send the truck.”
Mr McKenzie said most delays suffered by hauliers since the end of the Brexit transition period have been due to drivers not having a coronavirus test needed to enter France, or issues with customs paperwork.
“We’re already seeing substantial problems on the Irish crossing, and as volumes build on the short straits this week, then we’ll really see a test of everything.”
Mr McKenzie added that Government IT systems are “under strain” and “not working as well as they should”.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove thanked hauliers, traders and industry partners for their efforts to comply with new rules and said their preparations had “paid dividends” with “minimal” disruption so far.
Mr Gove said there was the “potential for significant disruption” as the number of lorries heading to the border returned to normal levels as expected this week, adding: “We have always been clear there would be changes now that we are out of the customs union and single market, so full compliance with the new rules is vital to avoid disruption, and the best way to ensure readiness is to follow the guidance on gov.uk and use the ‘Check an HGV’ service.”
“We stand ready to help keep goods flowing smoothly as we adjust to our new relationship with the EU and ensure we take advantage of the opportunities it brings.”