Long-awaited Targeted Operating Model is now open for industry feedback

The government has published its long-awaited post-Brexit border plan.

The UK is implementing new border protocols

The UK is implementing new border protocols

The UK government, working with the Scottish and Welsh governments, unveiled its draft Border Target Operating Model (TOM) this week, which it said sets out a plan ”to realise the ambition of the 2025 Border Strategy to create the most effective border in the world.”

A six-week consultation period will now take place, with the final TOM due to be published later this year.

The government pointed out that the border transformation is backed by over a £1 billion investment across this spending review period, to improve how government systems and technology support the movement of goods and people across the border.

Defra said the proposed new model will prevent delays at the border through a reduction in the need for physical checks for many types of goods, and by ensuring that checks take place away from ports where this is needed to allow traffic to flow freely.

The proposals in the TOM apply to imports from all countries and are designed to ”ensure our environment is protected and delivers food that is safe to eat whilst maintaining security of supply for consumers, and disrupts criminal activity before it can harm our communities.”

Prioritising biosecurity, the government said the controls would protect consumers, businesses and the economy as a whole against disease threats such as African Swine Fever and Xylella.

Single Trade Window

Central to the proposed model is a new Single Trade Window, delivered from 2023 and aiming to be fully operational by 2027. Defra said this technology will streamline processes for traders, who will only need to submit information once and in one place.

The government will also test further simplified processes by piloting an ambitious programme of trusted trader assurance schemes.

The draft TOM proposes implementation of controls through three major milestones:

  • 31 October 2023 - The introduction of health certification on imports of medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products and high risk food (and feed) of non-animal origin from the EU.
  • 31 January 2024 - The introduction of documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks on medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products and high risk food (and feed) of non-animal origin from the EU. At this point imports of sanitary and phytosanitary goods from the rest of the world will begin to benefit from the new risk-based model.
  • 31 October 2024 - Safety and security declarations for EU imports will come into force from 31 October 2024. Alongside this, Defra will introduce a reduced dataset for imports and use of the UK Single Trade Window will remove duplication where possible across different pre-arrival datasets.

‘Working with industry’

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, minister of state at the Cabinet Office, said: ”The publication of our draft Border Target Operating Model is a huge step forward for the safety, security and efficiency of our borders. Our proposals strike a balance between giving consumers and businesses confidence while reducing the costs and friction for businesses, which in turn will help to grow the economy.”

Biosecurity minister Lord Benyon said: ”It is vital that we have strong border controls in place. Invasive diseases could cost our farms and businesses billions of pounds, threaten our food safety and break confidence in UK exports around the world. That is why we are working hand in glove with businesses to devise a strong system that works for the nation.”

A spokesperson for the Fresh Produce Consortium said the trade body supported the publication of the draft TOM, adding: ”The UK government is taking its opportunity to implement a world-leading, least-cost border solution. We will work with the UK government to facilitate responsible companies in the fresh produce, flower and plant sector to utilise their expertise to best effect to maximise efficiency, food safety and biosecurity.”