In line with the information already made public in technical notices by the Government, a ferry arrived in the port this morning carrying goods of animal origin from the United Kingdom to Gibraltar.
It will be recalled that the UK and Gibraltar are both third countries now in relation to the EU. This means that goods of animal origin in transit from the UK to Gibraltar have to enter the EU through a Border Control Post (BCP) generally in France and then exit through the nearest BCP in Algeciras. They then transit in a ferry across the Bay to Gibraltar.
The ferry, owned and operated by German company FRS, has allocated at least ten slots to trucks and lorries destined for Gibraltar in each vessel and six such sailings a week are expected. It will be recalled that the infrastructure, including a new ferry ramp, were already constructed at the port with a view to a possible no-deal Brexit at the time of the Withdrawal Agreement. The facilities for Government departments, agencies and authorities to deal with the import of goods by sea through the ferry have also been put in place.
The EU requirement for the use of a BCP for this kind of goods from outside the Union means that the processes and procedures involved are more cumbersome and more bureaucratic both on entry into the EU and again on exit. The entry controls in France being logically more intense than those on exit. This new mechanism applies to all relevant products of animal origin from the UK in transit through the EU and not only to those destined for Gibraltar.
The Government is very grateful to the different agencies, authorities and departments who have been working hard to make this a reality. It is also grateful to the food suppliers and supermarkets in Gibraltar with whom it has been working very closely now on these matters for a long time. There are some who have set up operations in the EU in order to formally import the goods and then formally re-export them to Gibraltar. This method does not require a BCP which is only required for goods in transit.
The Government would also like to acknowledge the very close cooperation with the FCDO and DEFRA in the United Kingdom, who have engaged with our food suppliers and importers and organised webinars on the new arrangements.
It is important to emphasise that the new ferry route only applies to products of animal origin from outside the EU in transit through it and not to all other products. It therefore does not apply to products from inside the EU which can continue to cross the border as usual without needing to use the ferry or the BCP in Algeciras.
This whole issue is a direct consequence of our departure from the EU on 31 January 2020 and of the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.