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Food Products and Agriculture

Tuesday 23 March 2021

What products do we consume from the United Kingdom? What products do we send to the United Kingdom?

Close to 50% of Spanish agri-food exports to the United Kingdom (UK) can be grouped together in 10 groups of products. Fruits (citrus fruits and stone fruits) and vegetables which, as a whole, account for around 20% of all exports (which rises by 8% when including red fruits, kiwi fruits and persimmons). Exports of wine and grape juice to the UK account for 8% of all exports to the UK (and 11% of all Spanish exports). These are followed in terms of value by olive oil (5%) and pork products (3%).

In the field of imports from the UK to Spain, spirits account for a significant volume of 26% of our import of agri-food products from the UK, and 25% of all spirits imported by Spain.

Fish products account for 21% of imports from the UK, the main products of which are fresh fish. The most important species are hake, megrim and anglerfish, as well as frozen lobster, for a value of 228 million euros. 

In terms of products exported to the UK, prepared and canned tuna and fish meal are particularly noteworthy, with a value of 103 million euros.

A detailed report on our agri-food and fisheries foreign trade with the United Kingdom is published on the web page of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

What customs duties will be applied in the EU as from the withdrawal date?

The agreement reached between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom provides for zero customs duties and zero contingents for goods originating from either of the parties.

Which products will be subject to health controls by the Border Health services?

The products from the UK that will be subject to controls by the Border Health services, after the end of the Transition Period, can be consulted by clicking on the following URL: https://www.mscbs.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/sanidadExterior/controlesSanitarios/productosControl/lista_productos.htm

What requirements must be complied with to introduce or import different products for human use or consumption subject to control by the Border Health services?

The health requirements that products from the UK must comply with to introduce or import into the EU, as from 1 January 2021, can be consulted by clicking on the following URL: https://www.mscbs.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/sanidadExterior/controlesSanitarios/procedControl/home.htm

How does Brexit affect the health controls on the import and export of food?

As from 1 January 2021, products from the UK must comply with the health requirements demanded by EU law to be introduced or imported into the EU. In the case of products to be exported from the EU to the UK, they must comply with UK health regulations.

Will EU regulations cease to apply to products from the UK in terms of quality and food safety? What controls will products from the UK be subject to?

As from 1 January 2021, products from the UK must undergo the same health controls on the introduction or import as those from any other country outside of the EU.

Will there be any limitation on the entry of packages or personal luggage from the UK that contain food products?

As from 1 January 2021, the limitations on the entry of packages or personal luggage are the same as for other countries from outside the European Union. You can consult these requirements by clicking on the following URL: https://www.mscbs.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/sanidadExterior/controlesSanitarios/procedControl/envios_personales.htm

Can plant varieties on the catalogue from the UK continue to be used and sold?

As from 1 January 2021, the UK will be considered a country from outside of the EU, and hence its registration on the Common Catalogues of the European Union for those plant varieties registered solely at the request of the UK will be cancelled. Consequently, these varieties cannot be sold in the rest of the EU.

The 27 Member States and the European Commission have established simplified procedures so that plant breeders can easily register varieties in at least one of the 27 Member States, such that the plant varieties in question will continue to be registered on the Common Catalogues, thus allowing their sale in the EU following Brexit.

What effects will Brexit have for the communication procedure for placing food products in the market?

One of the consequences of the UK's withdrawal from the EU is that the party responsible for the sale of food imported from the UK must be a company established in the EU, and its details must appear on the label.

Food supplements and food products for specific population groups are subject in Spain, pursuant to national provisions that incorporate EU law, to a notification procedure before the competent authorities by economic operators responsible for their sale as a pre-requisite to said sale in Spain.

Accordingly, as from 1 January 2021, all operators from the UK that wish to sell these products in Spain must present a notification through a company with a registered address in the EU, and may not present this directly.

It should be pointed out that the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides for the application of technical barriers to unnecessary trade, and hence the principle of mutual recognition, as regards the sale of food supplements, will continue to be applicable to such supplements from the UK, without prejudice to the application of regulations on food safety in the EU, which will continue to be mandatory.


Sanitary and phytosanitary products

What sanitary and phytosanitary controls are there on the import of agri-food products to Spain from the UK?

As from 1 January 2021, the import of agri-food products (animals, plants, animal origin products, feed, etc.) will be subject to the same requirements and sanitary and phytosanitary controls as for their import from any third country. These requirements include:

  • The obligation for their import to take place via an airport or port that has an authorised Border Control Point for the category of product to be imported
  • The need for the good to be accompanied by an Official Phytosanitary or Veterinarian Certificate
  • The payment of the charges for phytosanitary or veterinarian controls

Upon their arrival at the Border Control Point, all goods must be subjected to controls, which may include documentary, identity and physical controls.
To obtain more information, click on the specific headings of the web page of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food:

What sanitary and phytosanitary controls are there on the export of agri-food products to the UK from the EU?

The following link shows the information that the UK Government updates on the sanitary and phytosanitary conditions for exports from the EU for products of animal and plant origin and other products that fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Border Operating Model.

In addition, this link contains a guide with the different steps to be followed to export to the UK from the EU as from 1 January 2021: Prepare to import goods from the EU to Great Britain from 1 January 2021.

The system provides for three phases which will progressively introduce requirements and controls on exports from the EU to the UK, including:

  • The need for the good to be accompanied by an Official Phytosanitary or Veterinarian Certificate (some goods such as live animals or planting materials as from 1 January 2021, others as from 1 October 2021 or 1 January 2022).
  • The need for prior notification in the destination country, according to the type of product (some goods, such as products of animal origin as from 1 October 2021, others as from 1 January 2022).
  • The obligation for their import to take place via an airport or port that has an authorised Border Control Point for the category of product to be imported (as from 1 January or 1 March 2022 depending on the type of goods).

As regards official certificates, all products affected by specific requirements must follow the ordinary procedure for the issue of phytosanitary or veterinarian certificates, in other words, the issue of the corresponding certificate will fall to the applicant operator through computer applications enabled to this end (CEXVEG or CEXGAN).

For additional information, please visit the following specific sections of the MAP website:

LIVESTOCK FOREIGN TRADE (mapa.gob.es)

FOREIGN VEGETABLE TRADE (mapa.gob.es)

Commercial quality of agri-food products

As from 1 January 2021, the UK will become a third country and those products that are subject to EU marketing standards in the EU, such as fruit and vegetables and olive oil, among others, must be controlled at the time of import and/or export. Operators must request the inspection of these goods from the inspection service of the Territorial and Provincial Trade Directorates through the ESTACICE platform.


Ecological and differentiated quality products

The agreement reached between the UK and the EU includes recognition of the equivalence of the respective legislation on organic production, which will facilitate the trade of this type of product. However, and despite this equivalence agreement, as from 1 January 2021, ecological products imported from the UK will be subject to control at the time of import. Operators must present the SOIVRE Inspection Service of the Territorial and Provincial Trade Directorates with the corresponding request for control and the certificate of electronic origin must be registered in TRACES.

Will Spanish foods with Protected Designations of Origin (Spanish acronym: DDOOPP) or Protected Geographical Indications (Spanish acronym: IIGGPP) continue to be allowed to be sold in the United Kingdom? Will their names be protected?

As regards the first question, in principle the UK will subject the import of products protected by Designations of Origin and Geographical Indications (wines, spirits and agri-food products) to the same rules as analogous products without a geographical indication.

As regards the protection of their names, the Withdrawal Agreement establishes that registered Protected Designations of Origin and Geographical Indications from the EU, and hence legally protected within the EU, will enjoy, as from 31 December 2020, the same level of protection in the UK as they currently enjoy under European regulations. However, new Protected Designations of Origin and Geographical Indications that are registered in the EU subsequent to 1 January 2021 must be registered in the UK pursuant to its own legislation.

What protection will Protected Designations of Origin and Protected Geographical Indications of food recognised in the United Kingdom have in the European market?

British Protected Designations of Origin and Geographical Indications registered and hence legally protected in the EU as at 31 December 2020 will enjoy the same level of protection in the EU as they currently enjoy under EU regulations. New Protected Designations of Origin and Geographical Indications that are registered in the UK subsequent to that date must undergo EU administrative procedures.

It will fall to the EU to establish the protection system of UK geographical indications (which will not necessarily continue to have the status of Protected Designations of Origin or Geographical Indications), taking into account, as the case may be, the international treaties which the European Union or its individual Member States are party to: Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the WTO; the Paris Convention; the Lisbon Agreement; and in a hypothetical future case, the Geneva Act, etc.

Will the European ecological production logo continue to be recognised in the UK?

Yes. Spanish ecological products certified pursuant to European ecological production regulations will maintain their status as ecological in the UK (Organic farming products).

Can ecological products continue to be exported to the UK?

Yes. As a temporary measure and until 30 June 2021, EU ecological products can continue to be exported to the UK without the need to present an inspection certificate at border control points. As from 1 July 2021, the export of ecological products to the UK will require the presentation of an inspection certificate for each shipment.

In addition, the new European legislation on ecological/organic/bio production, which will enter into force in 2022, will be evaluated by the Joint EU-UK Working Group to look for equivalence between the two legislations - European and British.


Wood packaging

Will wood packaging and dunnage be subject to any type of control?

As from 1 January 2021, all wood packaging, and dunnage and other elements that form part of any shipment from Great Britain and its dependent territories (Northern Ireland is excluded) must have been treated pursuant to the International Phytosanitary Standard ISPM-15.

Furthermore, wood packaging and dunnage that form part of shipments exported to Great Britain and its dependent territories must have been treated pursuant to ISPM-15.

In what type of shipments will packaging have to comply with ISPM-15?

Compliance with ISPM-15 will affect wood packaging and dunnage that forms part of any shipment, regardless of the type of product shipped.


Common policies and financing

Will British farmers and fishermen have to comply with the same rules as those of EU Member States?

As from 1 January 2021, European and Spanish negotiators will have to pay close heed to ensure that situations of unfair competition do not arise in terms of the regulations that the UK may adopt on agriculture, fisheries and food in the future, and need to adopt its own measures, as the case may be.

How will Brexit affect aid under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in Spain?

The UK must comply with all its financial obligations stemming from its commitments under the current Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020, which includes aid under the first pillar of the CAP until 2020, the commitment under the rural development programmes of the current framework paid up to 2023 and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). Hence, Brexit should not affect aid in Spain throughout this period in any regard.

Henceforth, aid corresponding to both EU policies (CAP and CFP) in Spain will depend on the agreement reached between the 27 remaining Member States for the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.

Non official translation


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