Plants and Plant Products

Generally, imports and exports of plants and plant products move freely within the EU. Some plants which are subject to risks are subject to the EU plant passport regime.

Plants and plant products originating from outside the EU  travelling through the EU without an EU state carrying out checks would be treated as non-EU imports and subject to third country rules.

In the event of a hard Brexit without an agreement, some plants and plant products which can now move freely would be controlled and must meet import requirements before they can be imported into the EU. The UK may apply reciprocal restrictions until a mutual agreement is entered.

Phytosanitary Certificates

Many fruit and vegetable products require phytosanitary certification at the point of entry into the EU. This includes plants, bulbs and tubers, or seeds for propagation, many fruits and vegetables, cut flowers and branches, grain, and growing medium. The purpose is to certify that the goods have been inspected in the country of origin and meet EU standards on quarantine pests and disease

Plants and plant products imported from non-EU countries under a phytosanitary certificate may be inspected when they enter the EU. It may be necessary to pre-notify the UK Plant Seed Inspectorate of a planned import. This applies even in the case of intra-EU movements. It is done through the PEACHES system.

Controlled plant types exported from the EU to non-EU countries may require phytosanitary certificates issued by the relevant authority in the third country. The authority is the Animal and Plant Health Agency in England and Wales and the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland.

Wood and Timber

Wood packaging material imported from and exported to non-EU countries is subject to international standards and phytosanitary measures. This requires treatment and marketing. Risk-based checks are undertaken. This is not currently applicable on intra-EU trade but would commence on Brexit in the absence of agreement otherwise.

At present, there are common EEA/EU rules in relation to tracing the origin of timber. The EU Timber Regulation requires due diligence steps in relation to origin. Businesses trading in products inside the EU already on the market must keep a record of whom they purchased timber from and to whom they sell it.

Under the EU regulations, monitoring organisations may provide operators with the due diligence system and perform associated functions. The organisations must be recognised by the European Commission.

Timber imported from countries that have operational FLEGT licensing systems under a voluntary partnership with the EU must be accompanied by a FLEGT licence. Certain timbers are covered by Convention on International trade in endangered species and wild fauna and flora (CITES)

In the case of a no deal, Brexit businesses importing timber from the EU must undertake the steps and procedures applicable to purchases from outside the EU at present. They must exercise due diligence to demonstrate that they have imported legally harvested timber in accordance with certain prescribed procedures.

Timber subject to CITES will be subject to the new UK CITES regulation

Brexit Scenarios

In the event of hard Brexit businesses may require a phytosanitary certificate from the UK Plant Authority prior to export. The same is likely to apply in respect of exports from Ireland to the UK in the absence of a mutual agreement.

The UK has indicated that the majority of plants and plant products are low-risk and that they should continue to be allowed to enter from the EU even in the event of no deal. There are likely to be some exceptions. They would include plants currently subject to the EU plant passport regime which would be subject to an equivalent UK regime to ensure traceability and assurance. They would require a phytosanitary certificate in the country of export.

It is contemplated that the relevant documentary and identity checks would be carried out remotely by the Plant Health Authority without border checks where possible.

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