EU Customs Commissioner Pierre Muscovici said the risk of a no-deal Brexit and major disruption was increasing, and said customs checks would “apply to all goods arriving from the UK”.
Tourists would be prevented from carrying British cheeses and meats with them to the continent.
With 11,000 vehicles making the Dover to Calais crossing every day, Mr Moscovici also warned of tailbacks if there is an abrupt exit.
He said he is working to minimise disruption at the Irish border, but he insisted checks would still be needed.
In a Brexit briefing on customs, he said: “We’re now faced with an increasing risk of a no-deal Brexit on April 12… This will be an immediate legal change, a radical one, and obviously a very substantial one for the UK, our member states and our businesses. A cliff-edge scenario… would create major disruption and we must expect there would be queues at the Eurotunnel exit and at the ports.”
He said checks would take place away from the Irish border as much as possible, but “we have to ensure full application of the customs code as soon as the UK leaves”.
He said: “They would need to protect their respective markets – public health, consumer safety, legitimate businesses – and carry out the necessary checks in the least disruptive manner and as much as possible away from the border, I insist on that.
“What matters is how these checks take place… We are working closely and intensively with the Irish Taoiseach in order to organise these checks in a least disruptive a manner as possible.”
Asked if a hard border would be needed, Mr Moscovici said “peace there is absolutely key”, but: “There will be checks, let’s not be mistaken.”