A Dutch television network has filmed border officials seizing food, including meat sandwiches, from travelers entering the Netherlands from the UK – blaming post-Brexit rules.
In a segment aired on public broadcaster NPO 1, officials are shown explaining to a driver arriving at Hoek van Holland, home to an international ferry terminal: “Since Brexit, you are no longer allowed to take food to Europe, like meats, fruits, vegetables, fishes – those kinds of stuff.”
One driver, with sandwiches wrapped in tin foil, asks if he can keep the bread and relinquish the meat, but is told by an official: “No, everything will be confiscated. Welcome to the Brexit, sir, I’m sorry.”
Now the UK has left the single market and customs union, goods crossing the border are subject to customs and other checks.
In guidance to hauliers and commercial drivers transporting goods between Britain and the European Union, the UK government warns drivers they cannot bring “products of an animal origin” – such as those containing meat or dairy, like ham and cheese sandwiches – into the EU.
“Drivers travelling to the EU should be aware of additional restrictions to personal imports,” the guidance reads. “If you are carrying prohibited items in your luggage, vehicle or person you need to use, consume, or dispose of them at or before the border,” it adds.
The Dutch customs agency has also warned UK travelers of similar restrictions, writing on Instagram in November that from January 1: “Typical products like cheddar, clotted cream, and Scottish haggis will then no longer be allowed with you.”
The European Commission outlines in its guidance: “Personal goods containing meat, milk or their products brought into the EU continue to present a real threat to animal health throughout the Union.” It adds that “dangerous pathogens that cause animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease and classical swine fever can reside in meat, milk or their products.”
Border staff told NPO 1 that, once coronavirus restrictions subside, an influx of travelers could lead to longer waiting times for those entering the country.
“Now look, at this moment the volumes, like you saw, we’re pretty small this morning – 30 cars,” Rien de Ruijter, Customs team leader told the TV channel.
“We anticipate of course that when the Covid measures go away, those numbers will increase, and then the waiting times could also increase. And that could definitely lead to irritation,” he added.