GM Food and Animal Feed (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

Instructions (by the Food Standards Agency) are issued today re exports of GM Food and Animal Feed Products to the EU From 1st January 2021 – here.

Please read carefully, below is a summary –

The information applies to UK businesses:

* holding or seeking authorisations for genetically modified (GM) food or feed

* holding or seeking authorisations for animal feed additives

* exporting animal feed products to the EU

* that have applications to update the list of feed for particular nutritional purposes (PARNUTS) pending on 31 December 2020

• that represent companies that are based in non-EU countries which rely on UK representation for EU trade

The business must be established in the EU or European Economic Area (EEA), or have a representative that is established in the EU or EEA for trade to the EU to occur. The EEA includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The role of the representative is to provide assurance that the non-EU establishment complies with EU legislation.

Where EU authorisations are held for GM food or feed, or for animal feed additives, a representative must be established in the EU or EEA. The details of the representative must be sent to the European Commission. This could be a branch of the business which is established in the EU or EEA or another business.

Changes to holder-specific authorisations for GM food or feed, or for feed additives, require amendments to EU legislation which would need to be in place by 31 December 2020. Businesses in the process of such changes must approach the European Commission as soon as possible.

Exporters of feed products to the EU require representation in the EU or EEA. EU countries will each have their own systems for this and businesses should consult with the relevant competent authority in the EU country for further advice on gaining recognition for their representative. The requirement for non-EU country representation would apply to all feed products exported to the EU.

The requirement for non-EU country representation applies to all feed products. This follows the European Commission’s announcement of a revised interpretation of Regulation (EC) 183/2005, Article 24. The FSA is currently seeking clarity on this interpretation, but companies should nevertheless anticipate this revised interpretation and consider designating a representative within the EU or the EEA.

Regulation (EC) No 183/2005 on feed hygiene states that establishments approved by the competent authority shall be recorded in a national list under an individual identifying number. From 1 January 2021, these approval numbers may not be recognised in EU countries.

Please clarify with your third country representative or the competent authority in the individual member state(s) that you wish to export to, to ensure that you are compliant with the rules on third country requirements when exporting to the EU.

Emissions Trading Systems (UK Brexit, EU, Switzerland)

As of 1 January 2020, Switzerland is the first country to link its greenhouse gas emissions trading system (SETS) with the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS).

A process that took almost 10 years, is now finalized allowing the entry into force of the entire agreement between the EU and Switzerland on the linking of their greenhouse gas emissions trading systems that was signed in Bern on 23 November 2017 (Agreement).

The EU and Switzerland operate separate greenhouse gas emissions trading systems (ETS) as part of their respective policies to tackle climate change. After the Agreement’s entry into force in 1 January 2020, the SETS is now linked to the much larger EU ETS to allow for the mutual recognition of emission allowances from the two system.

The UK, whilst in the transition period, participates in the EU ETS, and the 2018 suspension applicable to UK auctioning and issuing 2019 allowances is lifted (with access to UK registry accounts continuing). Please confirm this with BEIS.

The UK has a hitherto unused Carbon Tax on its statute books, and has closed its wider (non EU ETS) existing ETS (the CRC carbon trading system). From 1st January 2021, it could seek to continue a UK version of the EU ETS with mutual recognition of allowances between the UK and the EU systems. The linking of the (Switzerland) SETS with the EU ETS would be a reference point for such negotiations.

China, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States are operating or are developing ETSs.

Further information is in this article – here.

EU Single-Use Plastics Directive (UK alignment)

From 1st January 2021, the UK is outside the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement transition period.

Northern Ireland – EU Law on goods (includes Environment) continues to apply.

Scotland – a ban on cotton buds is already in place

England – plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds ban will come into force in April 2020

Wales – the Welsh government will consult

The EU Single-Use Plastics Directive was published in 2019, Member States have two years to implement, some aspects a bit longer – here.

The 2019 Directive mandates a reduction in the consumption of the single-use plastic products listed in Part A of the Annex, in line with the overall objectives of the EU’s waste policy, in particular waste prevention, leading to a substantial reversal of increasing consumption trends. The measures (put in place in member states) should achieve a measurable quantitative reduction in the consumption of the single-use plastic products listed in Part A of the Annex on the territory of the Member State by 2026 compared to 2022.

The 2019 Directive also mandates a ban on the placing on the market of the single-use plastic products listed in Part B of the Annex and of products made from oxo-degradable plastic.

The 2019 Directive also obliges Member States to ensure that single-use plastic products listed in Part C of the Annex that have caps and lids made of plastic may be placed on the market only if the caps and lids remain attached to the containers during the products’ intended use stage.

The 2019 Directive sets out further measures.

Environment Bill (England & UK, Brexit)

Exit day is tomorrow, the transition period will last until 31st December.

The Environment Bill (from the previous session) is being brought back today and given its First Reading in the UK Parliament.

I Blog posted already about the earlier Environment Bill (various sections). When the Bill is published I will reprise those areas that are changed, and Blog post as well on the further sections I had not covered.

To remind – the Environment Bill is an important Bill setting up the Office for Environmental Protection (England) and making further changes to UK REACH to enable it to function from 1st Jan 2021, and additionally setting out other measures (England, and some provisions for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).

The government announcement last night signals :

(1) A ban on the export of plastic waste (which was in the Conservative manifesto), additional to the waste provisions in the previous Bill. Note, the waste provisions as signalled do not align with the 2019 EU Single-Use Plastics Directive.

(2) A bi-annual review of international developments in environmental law that it says will inform domestic law making.

Please look out for further Blog posts on the matter, when the Bill is published.

Frontier Workers in UK after 1st Jan 2021 (UK Brexit)

Exit day is Friday, thereafter the UK is in the transition period government by the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement. This transition period is expected to end 31st December 2020.

The UK has today issued instructions for Frontier Workers intending to work in the UK after 1st January 2021.

Frontier Workers are EU, EEA or Swiss citizens regularly commuting to the UK because they are employed or self-employed in the UK but live elsewhere. Frontier Workers are able to switch between jobs.

The document provides information for EU, EEA and Swiss frontier workers who wish to continue working in the UK from 1 January 2021 – here.

Note : further information will be provided by the Home Office. This Blog does not focus on Visas or Immigration.

Visit Europe from 1 Jan 2021 (UK Brexit)

The UK exits the EU and EFTA on Friday.

The transition period ends 31st December 2020.

The UK has now issued instructions on Travel to Europe after 1st January 2021 – here.

Travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein will change (for UK nationals and persons travelling on a UK passport) from 1st January 2021.

(1) passports – on the day of travel, the UK passport must :

* have at least 6 months left, and

* be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left)

[not Ireland – passports need only be valid for the duration of stay in Ireland]

(2) EHIC – from 1 January 2021 the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card might not be valid (this is not confirmed either way yet). The recommendation is private health insurance.

(3) Driving – extra documents will be required from 1 January 2021 –

* a specific international driving permit (IDP) [not Ireland, and check the country list linked in the instructions].

* a ‘green card’ from the vehicle insurance company

* GB sticker [not enforced in Ireland, this is not mentioned in the UK instructions, but is confirmed by Ireland, and particularly relevant for travellers from Northern Ireland]

(4) Flights, ferries, cruises, Eurostar and Eurotunnel, bus and coach services

From 1 January 2021, the following will run as before:

* flights

* ferries and cruises

* the Eurostar and Eurotunnel

* bus and coach services between the UK and the EU

If flying:

* airport security procedures will not change for direct flights to and from the UK

* there should not be delays at airport security for flight changes in EU airports

(5) Duty free, goods and cash restrictions – check the instructions – not Ireland

(6) Travel disruption compensation – the instructions advise checking the booking conditions

(7) Visas – not needed for tourist trips if the stay is less than 90 days in 180 days.

[tourist visas will not be needed for trips to Ireland]

Business visas may be required – further information is expected.

[business visas will not be required for trips to Ireland]

(8) Border Control – at border control, the following may be required –

* to show a return or onward ticket

* to prove sufficient money for the stay

* to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing

[not Ireland]

(9) Mobile Phone Roaming – from 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end.

A UK law means the subscriber is protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without notification. Once £45 is reached, an opt in will be required to spend more to continue using the internet whilst abroad.

(10) Business Services and Business Goods – a customs declaration and a business visa may be required, including possibly to attend meetings [not Ireland]. Further information is expected.

The UK instructions list other aspects and links.

[the principals of Cardinal Environment Limited are dual UK/EU nationals]

10 Changes after Friday (UK & EU Brexit)

Exit day is Friday (12pm CET, 11pm UK time)

10 immediate changes (credit – online article of this title at ukandeu.ac.uk) – my summary

(1) The UK will no longer be an EU member state

The EU will officially become of a union of 27 rather than 28. If the UK wants to be an EU member again it would have to reapply and negotiate to rejoin.

(2) The UK will no longer have any MEPs

UK MEPs, elected in May 2019, will no longer sit in the European Parliament. Around a third of the UK’s 73 seats will be redistributed to other countries. The overall size of the Parliament will be reduced.

(3) The UK will no longer have a commissioner

Julian King was the last UK commissioner. The UK did not nominate a new candidate to the European Commission that started on 1 December, despite requests from the Commission to do so.

(4) The UK Prime Minister will stop attending European Council summits

These summits—the meetings of the heads of state and government of the EU—have become a fixture of the EU calendar and tend to be the most high-profile of all EU activities.

The UK Prime Minister will no longer have an invitation to attend, except on rare occasions where a EU-UK meeting is tacked on to a summit.

In fact, the European Council in October was the current UK prime minister’s first and last European Council meeting as prime minister.

(5) UK ministers and officials will not attend other Council meetings

It’s not just the prime minister that has been going to meetings in Brussels. For the last 47 years, UK ministers (or their officials) have regularly attended Council meetings.

Last week, Sajid Javid went to the UK’s last Economic and Financial Affairs Council. In early January Dominic Raab joined other EU foreign ministers at a meeting to discuss Iran.

The Withdrawal Agreement allows for the possibility that the UK could be invited to attend meetings in exceptional circumstances, if the topic is relevant to the UK-EU relationship.

Chris Pincher, the UK’s Europe minister, attended the UK’s last Council meeting on 28 January.

(6) UK judges will no longer sit at the European Court of Justice

British judges—Eleanor Sharpston, Ian Stewart Forrester and Christopher Vajda—will no longer be members of the two courts that form the Court of Justice of the European Union: the Court of Justice and the General Court.

Rulings on the application and interpretation of EU law, which will still apply to the UK in the transition period, and in some cases beyond, will be taken with no input from British judges.

(7) EU law will apply to the UK, not as a member state but via the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement (an international treaty)

EU law will continue to apply in the UK during the transition period.

However, it will be determined by the UK’s obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement, rather than as a Member State.

The 2020 UK Withdrawal Agreement Act effectively copies over the effects of the European Communities Act for the transition period to ensure legal continuity.

[note : I have a new category for EU Law in UK 2021 because we are waiting clarification on long tail implementation, law by law, of particularly 2019 EU instruments]

(8) The UK will be able to start trade deals with other countries

From 11pm on 31 January 2020, the UK will be able to negotiate, sign and ratify trade agreements with other countries. Implementation will be after the transition period.

While the UK in transition, the EU has asked other countries the EU has trade deals with already to continue to treat the UK as a member state for trade purposes. The intention is that these other countries should agree to the status quo during the transition period.

The UK has already agreed to roll over the EU’s existing trade deals with around 20 countries and trade blocs, and it has held preparatory talks with others which it needs to complete by the time transition ends.

But it can also start formal negotiations with other countries with whom the EU has not had a deal before, something it can’t do as an EU member.

(9) EU member states may refuse UK extradition requests for their citizens

Under the European Arrest Warrant, member states must comply with requests to arrest and/or extradite individuals who are wanted in other member states, with only some limited grounds for refusal.

This includes a time limit of 60 days to comply and member states cannot refuse to extradite their own nationals, except in limited circumstances.

The Withdrawal Agreement allows both EU member states and the UK to refuse to comply with such requests from the start of the transition period.

(10) Formal interactions with EU will take place through the UK-EU Joint Committee

While the UK was a member state it had a myriad of formal interactions with other member states and EU officials within the EU’s many institutions, bodies and agencies.

That ceases at 11pm on 31 January 2020.

Instead, a new body will be set up—the UK-EU Joint Committee—whose main job will be to oversee the implementation and application of the Withdrawal Agreement. This is of particular importance in Northern Ireland.

This will likely also become the body through which the UK and the EU manage any future trade agreement, as well as other treaties reached on matters like security and police co-operation.