Trade White Paper (UK)

The UK Government today published its responses to consultation submissions made to it on the Trade White Paper proposals it published earlier. The information is here.

(1) WTO – The UK is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in its own right, and it meets the obligations of WTO membership as a member of the EU. UK- specific WTO schedules are required, which, as far as possible, will not alter the scope of UK market access obligations either in UK goods (GATT) or services (GATS) schedules. These are required irrespective of any Trade Deal with the EU. In goods, this also includes the market access currently enjoyed by trading partners under Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) and Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS). In services, it also means preparing a UK-specific Annex on Article II (Most Favoured Nation Treatment) exemptions under the GATS.

The UK Government has consistently said that the best way forward is for the UK to replicate, as far as possible, its current commitments. The intention is to do this and to have the UK WTO schedules on the way to certification by the point the UK leaves the EU. Should the goods and services schedules be uncertified as the UK leaves the EU, the UK Government does not anticipate problems – it states (in the linked information) it is not uncommon for WTO members to operate on uncertified schedules for periods of time. It states it will continue to work for as early a certification point as possible, and it points out the EU itself has not had up to date certified schedules since the EC15 enlargement in 1995.

[NB: I am not a trade specialist, this Blog post merely reports the UK Government statements]

(2) GPA – this is the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. The UK currently participates in the GPA via its EU membership and the attached information states the necessary steps are being taken to maintain UK participation when the UK leaves the EU. The information states the UK is seeking to join the GPA as an independent party after it leaves the EU, to safeguard guaranteed access to global public procurement markets for UK businesses. Stakeholder engagement on the GPA has confirmed that continuing the UK’s participation in the GPA is important to UK businesses. The information states the UK Government will continue to engage with stakeholders throughout the coming months, to update them on the progress of UK independent UK membership of the GPA, and will seek further input and feedback from them on this policy area.

Unabated Coal Plant Closure (Britain)

Consultation on the closure of unabated coal generation in Britain by 2025 was recently held. It has been known that unabated coal generation would cease, because this had already been announced. The UK Government has now published its implementation plan today – here. This sets out the plan to realise the ceasing of unabated coal generation in Britain by 2025 (as of now, there are no coal plants in Scotland). NB: energy policy is a reserved matter in Scotland and a non-devolved matter in Wales. Energy policy is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland.

A new emissions intensity limit will be applied to generating units, of 450g CO2 per kWh of electricity generated, from 1st October 2025. This limit is broadly the emissions intensity of an unabated gas generator and is in line with the existing Emissions Performance Standard that applies to new build fossil fuel plant. The limit will be applied on a unit-by- unit basis, as proposed in the consultation. Units could meet this standard by investing to abate CO2 emissions significantly.

Note: the 450gCO2/kWh emissions intensity limit will be an instantaneous limit. This contrasts with the existing Emissions Performance Standard, which sets an annual limit on CO2 emissions from fossil fuel generators, based on their capacity and an assumed 85% annual load factor. Applying the existing Emissions Performance Standard on an annual basis could allow unabated coal units to run at relatively low load-factors and this will not be permitted.

As proposed in the consultation, to ensure that the emissions intensity limit is applied only to generating units that use coal and that there are no unintended consequences for other forms of generation, the limit will be applied to units burning any solid fossil fuel (i.e. coal, lignite, etc.), irrespective of site boundaries, and with a thermal capacity of over 300MWth. Compliance with the emissions intensity limit will be on a net CO2 basis, in that emissions from other fuels co-fired with solid fossil fuel will be included in the calculations for emission intensity. The emissions intensity limit will not apply to units that convert fully to other fuels.

To avoid the use of unsustainable biomass in units that co-fire – for the purposes of compliance with the emissions intensity limit, the net CO2 emissions from coal units co-firing with biomass will be calculated as the sum of the emissions from the coal element of the fuel diet, plus net life-cycle CO2 emissions attributable to the biomass element of the diet. It is recognised that this will have the incidental effect of increasing the relative proportion of biomass that would need to be combusted with coal in order to remain under the emissions intensity limit. This does not preclude any other biomass sustainability requirements that might be introduced in the future.

The documents published today identify that Coal is the most carbon intensive fossil fuel and that the decline in coal generation over the last few years has led to a significant reduction in the carbon intensity of the power sector. The UK Government assessment, as set out in their updated Impact Assessment, is that the closure of unabated coal plant will yield guaranteed reductions of 15MtCO2. In addition to this, reductions of harmful air pollution such as Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) will be guaranteed. This will contribute to the improvements in air quality that are being actively pursued at national level (in response to court action also) to reduce impacts on human health and the environment.

In 2017, the UK Government published an air quality plan to reduce roadside concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide and in 2018, the UK Government will publish a Clean Air Strategy outlining its plans to reduce emissions of air pollutants from a wide range of sources. This will be a further Blog post.

Note: the UK Prime Minister will give a speech on the topic of the Environment next week. Depending on its content, this may be a further Blog post.

The documents published that the UK government is considering the appropriate legislative vehicle for introducing the emissions intensity limit from 1 October 2025 and other measures required to implement it. As the introduction of the emissions intensity limit will prevent unabated coal units entering into the Capacity Market auctions held in late 2021/early 2022 for the 2025/26 delivery year, and subsequent auctions for delivery years beyond that, the documents state the required legislation can be expected before these 2021/22 auctions. A final Impact Assessment will be published at that time. A further Blog post may be made at that time, or this post updated. Post updates do not forward to inboxes, so please make a note to return to check this Blog post.

Brexit Bill Tracker (UK) (#2)

UPDATED 20 January 2018

Brexit Bills

(1) EU (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-2019 – Third Reading and Report Stage 16th and 17th January – Bill as amended so far here

(2) Nuclear Safeguards Bill 2017-2019 – Report Stage (date not announced) (no amendments made at Second Reading) – Bill here

(3) Trade Bill 2017-2019 – Second Reading 9th January – Explanatory Notes here, Bill here

(4) Immigration Bill

(5) Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill 2017-2019 – Second Reading 8th January, Explanatory Notes here, Bill here

(6) International Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill – introduced in House of Lords first, Explanatory Notes here, Bill as amended so far here

(7) Agriculture Bill – Command Paper later this spring – DEFRA announcement here

(8) Fisheries Bill

(9) Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill – DExEU announcement here

Brexit Consequent Bills

(1) Environmental Watchdog Bill – DEFRA announcement of consultation here

Subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists will see their Link to Brexit Laws appearing shortly.

UK exits the EU (animal health certificates of competence)

I posted earlier on ECHA advice to UK companies, and European Commission Notices to UK Operators.

Animal health has been debated in UK Parliament as part of its consideration of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19. Following this debate, DEFRA has issued a statement about Animal Health. This statement is here.

[A] The European Commission has issued a Notice to slaughterhouse operators holding a certificate of competence relevant to exports to the European Union. This notice is here.

(1) Certificates of competence delivered in the United Kingdom will no longer be valid in the European Union from the moment the United Kingdom becomes a third country (exit date).

(2) Slaughterhouse operators shall ensure that some operations are only carried out by persons holding a certificate of competence (exports to the European Union). This requirement also applies to animal welfare officers (vets) who are working in a slaughterhouse (exports to the European Union).

[B] The European Commission has issued a Notice to transporters of live animals to the European Union. This notice is here.

(1) Transporter authorisations granted by the competent authorities of the United Kingdom pursuant to Articles 10 or 11 of the Regulation will no longer be valid in the European Union from the moment the United Kingdom becomes a third country (exit date).

(2) Certificates of approval of means of transport, and of drivers and attendants granted by the competent authorities of the United Kingdom will no longer be valid in the European Union from the moment the United Kingdom becomes a third country (exit date).

These two notices are located here.

Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill 2017-2019 (UK)

UPDATE : the SECOND READING commences Monday 8th January 2018 (next Monday).

UPDATE : the Resolutions are agreed and the Bill has been given its FIRST READING. The date of the SECOND READING is not announced. The Bill is here. The Explanatory Notes are here.

A Bill to impose and regulate a duty of customs by reference to the importation of goods into the United Kingdom; to confer a power to impose and regulate a duty of customs by reference to the export of goods from the United Kingdom; to make other provision in relation to any duty of customs in connection with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU; to amend the law relating to value added tax, and the law relating to any excise duty on goods, in connection with that withdrawal; and for connected purposes.

—–

This Bill is the Brexit Customs Bill. It will be given its First Reading ONLY following debate and approval of the relevant Ways and Means Resolutions on Monday (20th November).

Ways and Means Resolutions are used to approve parts of a Bill that will involve taxes and charges being made on the public.

In this case, there are two Ways and Means Resolutions :

(1) to provide for the charging of import and export duties, the administration and enforcement of these duties, and customs duties in connection with the UK’s withdrawal from the EU,

(2) to authorise the Bill to amend the law relating to VAT and excise duty on goods in connection with the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU. This resolution prevents certain provision being made in relation to zero-rates or reduced rates of VAT, or exemptions, refunds or new reliefs from VAT.

Both (1) and (2), if enacted, will authorise the making of statutory instruments and other provisions.

There is also a Money Resolution to authorise expenses which might be incurred by public bodies as a result of provision made by or under this Bill to be paid by Parliament, and deal with the destination of money received by public bodies (e.g. Licence fees).

In the view of HM Government, each of the Resolutions for this Bill (if passed) would authorise provision that extends and applies to the whole of the UK.

This post will be UPDATED with the Bill itself if the Resolutions are agreed. NB : updates on the post will NOT result in a new notification, so please go onto the Blog itself to check.

EU (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-2019 (Days 1 & 2)

UPDATE : UK Government fact sheets are here.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (EUW Bill – UK law) will repeal the instrument that puts EU law into UK domestic law (the UK European Communities Act 1972) and create a new class of UK domestic law termed ‘retained EU law‘.

Subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists will see this new category appear in their Registers. First, the Brexit Law will be corralled into a single area accessed on the top right (Environment, and Occupational Health & Safety).

The EUW Bill is at the House of Commons Committee stage, an important stage when amendments are considered.

Day 1 of the considerations was yesterday. This considered amendments to Clause 1 and Clause 6 of the Bill.

Day 2 is today. This will consider Clauses 2, 3 and 4 (the EU retained law itself).

Clause 1 repeals the 1972 European Communities Act. No changes were agreed.

Clause 6 addresses the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union (often referred to as the European Court of Justice) after exit day. No changes were agreed.

UPDATE : Clauses 2, 3 and 4. No changes were agreed, Clause 4 was agreed.

Clause 6 (Interpretation of retained EU law) says :

6 Interpretation of retained EU law

A court or tribunal—

(a)  is not bound by any principles laid down, or any decisions made, on or after exit day by the European Court, and

(b) cannot refer any matter to the European Court on or after exit day.

A court or tribunal need not have regard to anything done on or after exit day by the European Court, another EU entity or the EU but may do so if it considers it appropriate to do so.

Any question as to the validity, meaning or effect of any retained EU law is to be decided, so far as that law is unmodified on or after exit day and so far as they are relevant to it –

(a) in accordance with any retained case law and any retained general principles of EU law, and

(b) having regard (among other things) to the limits, immediately before exit day, of EU competences.

But—

(a) Supreme Court is not bound by any retained EU case law,

(b)  the High Court of Justiciary is not bound by any retained EU case law

Etc

Brexit Bill Tracker (UK)

Brexit Bills

(1) EU (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-2019 – Commons Committee Stage (Full Commons Committee, commencing today) here

(2) Nuclear Safeguards Bill 2017-2019 – Commons Committee Stage (Public Bill Committee, commencing today) here

(3) Trade Bill 2017-2019 – Second Reading (date not announced) here

(4) Immigration Bill

(5) Customs Bill – White Paper here

(6) International Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill

(7) Agriculture Bill

(8) Fisheries Bill

(9) Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill – DExEU announcement here

Brexit Consequent Bills

(1) Environmental Watchdog Bill – DEFRA announcement of consultation here

Subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists will see their Link to Brexit Laws appearing shortly.