LONDON – It doesn’t take long for the customs officer to find the contraband in the car that he just ran over. Not guns, drugs, or people smuggled across the border – but a ham sandwich wrapped in aluminum foil.
“Welcome to Brexit, sir, I’m sorry!” says the sociable Dutch border official with a giggle as he confiscates the illegal snack.
The footage broadcast by the Dutch television station NPO 1 may seem nonsensical. However, the official only acted according to new rules that came into force after the UK stopped applying EU rules following Brexit on January 1.
Before Brexit, Great Britain was part of the European Union’s “internal market”, which enables people, goods, services and money to move freely around the continent with little or no checks.
In December, the two sides agreed on a new trade agreement to replace their old partnership, and this came into effect earlier this year. Since then, businesses and travelers have become aware of the reality that the new system has the potential for serious disruption.
The driver in the video had traveled from the UK to the Netherlands – which is still one of the 27 member countries of the European Union.
The driver seemed surprised that his lunch was confiscated – “Can’t I just remove the meat and leave the bread?” he asked incredulously – but the new rules are clear. UK Government guidance warns people who are not allowed to carry them in their personal luggage “products of animal origin such as meat or dairy products”, for example “a ham and cheese sandwich”.
This is because the E.U. fears that anything imported from the late UK – which now follows different regulations – “could pose a real threat to animal health”.
This is not an isolated incident. The Dutch Customs Service posted on facebook A photo shows a pile of groceries, including a carton of orange juice, cereal, and a box of oranges, confiscated from drivers who arrived at the ferry terminal in the town of Hook of Holland.
While travelers whose lunch has been confiscated may be angry, businesses are feeling the real impact of Brexit.
In the long term, according to the government watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, the deal negotiated by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to weaken the UK economy by 4 percent compared to staying in the European Union.
Companies are already saying that new border controls are creating confusion and that goods and goods do not arrive at their destination. Scottish salmon producer John Ross Jr. wrote in an open letter: “It feels like our own government has thrown us into the cold waters of the Atlantic without a life jacket.”
Brexit has also caused disruption within the UK itself. Additional paperwork has resulted in delays and empty supermarket shelves in Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK but is treated differently in terms of trade under the new post-Brexit deal.
Some UK online retailers have stated that they can no longer ship to Northern Ireland – even though they are all part of the same country.
Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said Sky News last week that “significant additional disruptions” are expected in the coming weeks and that the government “must redouble our efforts to communicate the exact documents required”.