SPS Export Health Certificates from April 21 (EU)

I posted before about the new EU Animal Health Law (Regulation (EU) 2016/429) that comes into force on April 21. This document is here.

The new EU Animal Health Law (AHR) is a large and complex Regulation designed to consolidate, update and replace a number of existing Regulations.

The main change is the new model export health certificates (EHCs) in use from April 21. EHCs are required for third country import into the EU.

AT THE SAME TIME, April 21 is the date for new rules for entry into the EU of composite products.

Including those for composites, a total of five new EHCs are needed from 21 April. These include three new products of animal origin (POAO) EHCs, two new composite EHCs and a private attestation document for composites exempt from certification. In the UK, private attestations do not need to be signed by an Official Veterinarian (OV) or Food Competent Certifying Officer (FCCO).

The three new POAO EHCs include meat of certain wild game and farmed large game and mechanically separated pork meat.

The two new composite product EHCs are –

a. Entry into the EU (or Northern Ireland) of not shelf-stable composite products and shelf stable composite products, containing any quantity of meat products (except gelatine, collagen and highly refined products) and intended for human consumption; and,

b. Transit through the EU to a third country either by immediate transit or after storage in the Union of not shelf-stable composite products and shelf-stable composite products containing any quantity of meat products and intended for human consumption.

Article 12 of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 2019/625 (delegated rules to a DIFFERENT Regulation (EU) No 2017/625, the Official Controls Regulation) establishes three categories of composite products (applicable from April 21):

(1) non shelf-stable composite products,

(2) shelf-stable composite products that contain any quantity of meat products, except gelatine, collagen and highly refined products, and

(3) shelf-stable composite products that do not contain meat products, except gelatine, collagen and highly refined products.

Note: the EU Official Controls Regulation itself has applied since 14 December 2019.

With a view to smoothen the transition, Article 35 of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 2020/2235 introduces a period of six months (to 20 October 2021) for the imports of composite products during which the old certificate will be accepted to enter the Union. Where no certificate was required prior to 21 April 2021, then the new relevant certificate or private attestation must be provided.

What is not a composite product?

The addition of a product of plant origin during the processing defined in Article 2(1)(m) of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of an animal product does not automatically mean that the resulting food falls within the definition of composite products. If such addition does not modify the main characteristics of the final product, the latter is not a composite product. It can be to add special characteristics or necessary for the manufacture of the product of animal origin (Article 2(1)(o) of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004).

For instance, a cheese to which herbs are added or a yogurt to which fruit is added remain dairy products. Similarly, canned tuna to which vegetable oil is added remains a fishery product. These foodstuffs must be produced in approved establishments in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 853/2004.

What percentage of a processed product of animal origin makes a food subject to the rules applicable to composite products?

What makes foodstuff subject to the rules applicable to the composite products is the fact that it is made by both products of vegetable origin and processed products of animal origin. The percentage of processed product of animal origin included in the composite product is irrelevant.

The above is taken from the EU Q&A on composite products – here.

These changes create a high impact on food trade between the UK and the EU.

From April 21, any composite product containing meat products (except gelatine, collagen and highly refined products) is subject to EU Border Control Post (BCP) (or Points of Entry (PoE) for Northern Ireland) checks and requires an EHC.

Chilled/frozen composite products containing processed dairy/egg/fish require EU BCP/PoE checks and an EHC.

Shelf stable composite products containing processed dairy/egg/fish (where the dairy or egg components meet certain heat treatment requirements) require a private attestation and EU BCP/PoE checks unless they are on the EU’s list of lower risk products.

The UK has updated its composites products guidance – here.

APHA (a DEFRA agency) has produced guidance on the April 21 changes – here.

It will be noted that guidance in the EU and the UK is not yet updated in all areas.

The EU is yet to publish the final EHCs for live animals and germinal products that will be used under the AHR. All EU EHCs and Notes for Guidance are being updated to reflect the new rules by August 2021. Only those needed for use by traders from 21 April will be available from April on EHC Online (EHCO), with the remainder uploaded and available by August 2021.

UK updates to the TCA (Britain)

A little while ago, the Government announced (unilateral) new dates for the grace periods applying to GB goods movement to Northern Ireland under the IRl/NI Protocol. The Brexit Guidance was then updated.

The Government has now announced (unilateral) new dates for the grace periods applying to EU imports into Britain under the TCA (the UK-EU FTA). The Brexit Guidance will be updated.

We are announcing today a clear revised timetable for the introduction of controls, as follows:

• Pre-notification requirements for Products of Animal Origin (POAO), certain animal by-products (ABP), and High Risk Food Not Of Animal Origin (HRFNAO) will not be required until 1 October 2021. Export Health Certificate requirements for POAO and certain ABP will come into force on the same date.

• Customs import declarations will still be required, but the option to use the deferred declaration scheme, including submitting supplementary declarations up to six months after the goods have been imported, has been extended to 1 January 2022.

• Safety and Security Declarations for imports will not be required until 1 January 2022.

• Physical SPS checks for POAO, certain ABP, and HRFNAO will not be required until 1 January 2022. At that point they will take place at Border Control Posts.

• Physical SPS checks on high risk plants will take place at Border Control Posts, rather than at the place of destination as now, from 1 January 2022.

• Pre-notification requirements and documentary checks, including phytosanitary certificates will be required for low risk plants and plant products, and will be introduced from 1 January 2022.

• From March 2022, checks at Border Control Posts will take place on live animals and low risk plants and plant products.

Traders moving controlled goods into Great Britain will continue to be ineligible for the deferred customs declaration approach. They will therefore be required to complete a full customs declaration when the goods enter Great Britain.

Controls and checks on Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods are of course a devolved matter and we continue to work closely with the Devolved Administrations on their implementation, in particular with the Welsh Government on their timetable for completing supporting Border Control Post infrastructure in Wales.

The written statement is here.

GB goods movement to the EU is unaffected, i.e. the TCA applies in full.

New Animal Health Law (EU)

From 21st April 2021, the EU will operate a new single, comprehensive regulatory framework for animal health, replacing a miscellany of complex law. The instrument (amended in 2017) is here. It’s a 2016 dated EU Regulation 2016/429, and applies to terrestrial and aquatic animals, animal products, and pets. It does not directly deal with animal welfare.

Q&A on the EU Animal Health Law is here.

The EU Animal Health Law sets out requirements for:

• disease prevention and preparation (e.g. biosecurity measures) for eventual outbreaks, such as the use of diagnostic tools, vaccination and medical treatments;

• the identification and registration of animals and the certification and tracing of their consignments, as well as those of certain animal products (e.g. semen, ova, embryos);

• the entry of animals and animal products into the EU and movement within;

• disease control and eradication, including emergency measures such as restrictions on the movement of animals, killing and vaccination.

The EU’s Animal Health Law is supplemented in the following aspects:

• the approval of germinal product establishments and the traceability and animal health requirements for movements within the EU of germinal products of certain kept terrestrial animals;

• prevention and control of certain diseases;

• animal health requirements for the movements within the EU of terrestrial animals and hatching eggs;

• surveillance, eradication and disease free status for certain diseases;

• rules for aquaculture establishments and transporters of aquatic animals;

• rules for entry into the EU, and the movement and handling after entry of consignments of certain animals, germinal products and products of animal origin; and

• rules for establishments keeping terrestrial animals and hatcheries, and the traceability of certain kept terrestrial animals and hatching eggs;

• diseases subject to union surveillance programmes, its geographical scope and diseases for which disease-free status of compartments may be established.

A series of delegated Regulations and an implementing Regulation supplement the EU Animal Health Law.

EU-UK Trade and cooperation agreement (2) (UK & EU)

I updated my post this morning with the link to the UK published legal text (1,246 pages – it’s the same text in the individual sections and chapters). Look back on the blog itself.

I also updated my post this morning (online) with the link to the EU document now loaded on a dedicated website, this also includes an EU Q&A – here.

A couple of points (identified in the Q&A) –

(1) Trading under ‘FTA’ (free trade agreement) terms from 1st Jan will differ substantively to trading in EU’s Customs Union and Single Market.

In particular:

• rules of origin will apply to goods in order to qualify for preferential trade terms under the agreement;

• all imports will be subject to customs formalities and will need to comply with the rules of the importing party;

• all imports into the EU must meet all EU standards and will be subject to regulatory checks and controls for safety, health and other public policy purposes.

(2) Traders will account not only for the origin of materials used, but also if their processing took place in the territory of one of the Parties. This is called ‘full cumulation’. Exporters will be able to self-certify the origin of the goods, and will have additional flexibility in collecting documentary evidence to prove origin during the first year.

(3) The Parties will recognise each other’s ‘Authorised Economic Operators’ programmes, enabling trusted traders with this status to use certain simplifications and/or facilitations relating to security and safety in their customs operations with the customs authorities of the other Party. But there is no waiver on security and safety declarations, as this requires alignment between the Parties on security standards.

(4) From 1st Jan, the EU and the UK will be two separate regulatory and legal spaces. This means that all products exported from the EU to the UK will need to comply with UK technical regulations and will be subject to any applicable regulatory compliance checks and controls. Similarly, all products imported from the UK to the EU will need to comply with EU technical regulations and will be subject to all applicable regulatory compliance obligations, checks and controls for safety, health and other public policy purposes.

(5) Both Parties agreed on a definition of international standards that identifies the relevant international standard-setting bodies. This is intended to ensure that both sides’ domestic product standards and technical regulations are based on the same international references and are therefore compatible to the extent possible.

(6) In the field of conformity assessment, the Parties agreed to maintain simplified access to each other’s markets through, in particular, the continued use of self-certification of conformity by the manufacturer where this is currently applied in both the EU and the UK. This covers a very large share of bilateral trade.

(7) Re Automotive Products – the Parties agreed that regulatory convergence will be based on the use of the international technical standards set at UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) level. Both Parties will accept, in their respective markets, products that are covered by a valid UN type-approval certificate.

(8) Re Medicinal Products – the Parties agreed to recognise the results of inspections carried out by the authorities of the other Party in manufacturing facilities located in the territory of the issuing authority. This will avoid unnecessary duplication of inspections of manufacturers of medicinal products to assess their compliance with Good Manufacturing Practice requirements.

(9) Re Chemicals – the Parties agreed to cooperate, while respecting each Party’s right to regulate, both bilaterally and in relevant international fora, on the assessment of hazards and risks of chemicals and the formats for documenting the results of such assessment. The Parties already implement the UN GHS and this will continue. The Parties agreed to use transparent procedures for the classification of substances and possibly to exchange non-confidential information.

(10) Re Organic Products – the Parties agreed reciprocal recognition of equivalence of the current EU and UK organic legislation and control system, for all categories of organic products. Organic products complying with EU law and certified by control bodies recognised by the EU will be accepted on the UK market and vice-versa. In view of new EU rules for organic products applying as of 1.1.2022, equivalence will be reassessed by end-2023.

(11) Re SPS – there will be no changes to EU food safety standards. UK agri-food exporters will need to meet all EU SPS import requirements and be subject to official controls carried out by Member States’ authorities at Border Control Posts. Where required, these controls will include the verification of health certificates in line with international standards. Similarly, EU agri-food exporters will need to meet all UK SPS import requirements.

The Agreement allows for either party to unilaterally decide to reduce the frequency of certain types of border import controls, taking into account the extent to which their SPS rules converge.

It also ensures a simplified process for the approval of imports, where relevant by drawing up lists of establishments that are eligible to export to the other party, based on guarantees provided by the authorities of the exporting Party.

(12) Re Northern Ireland – the EU acquis, including the Union Customs Code, legislation on goods, sanitary rules for veterinary controls (“SPS rules”), rules on agricultural production/marketing, or VAT and excise in respect of goods, will apply to all goods entering Nortern Ireland.

As a result, from 1 January, goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain will constitute “imports”.  This means that such goods will need to comply with EU product rules and be subject to checks and controls for safety, health and other public policy purposes, including all necessary SPS controls applicable between the EU and the UK.

An agreement in principle (under the separate Withdrawal Agreement) has been found in the following areas, amongst others: export declarations, the supply of medicines, the supply of certain chilled meats and other food products to supermarkets, and a clarification on the application of State aid under the terms of the Protocol. There are some facilitations –

For example, certain chilled meat, for which imports in the Union market are normally prohibited, will be accepted for delivery to supermarkets in Northern Ireland during a limited period of 6 months:

• Minced meat of poultry, frozen or chilled. Chilled minced meat from animals other than poultry (e.g. minced beef.

• Chilled meat preparations (e.g. sausages, meatballs, pork pies)..

• Any fresh meat, including minced meat and meat preparations, produced from triangular trade (e.g. EU meat exported to Great Britain, cut or minced in Great Britain and re-exported to Northern Ireland).

Another example is that, during a limited period of 3 months, the goods coming from Great Britain and destined for supermarkets located in Northern Ireland will be accompanied with a simplified, collective certificate covering all the goods transported in the same truck, instead of individual certificates.

During this period of time, the UK shall maintain its current EU SPS legislation for the products concerned.

The scope is limited to a restricted number of food suppliers for supermarkets which are approved by the UK authorities after demonstrating that they meet a range of trust criteria. This list of members will be established by the United Kingdom in cooperation with the European Commission before 31 December 2020 and cannot be extended after that date.

(13) Re Business Persons Mobility – the temporary movement of natural persons for business purposes (often refered to as ‘mode 4‘), the EU and the UK have agreed on a broad range of reciprocal commitments facilitating the ability of companies located in a Party to transfer certain employees, as intra-corporate transferees, to work in an associated company located in the other Party. As intra-corporate transferees constitute temporary migration, the maximum duration of such transfers is capped at three years. With respect to UK nationals transferred to the EU, this duration includes periods of mobility between Member States. This is in line with current EU practice with other third countries.

The EU-UK Agreement also facilitates the movement of “contractual service suppliers” or “independent professionals” to supply services under certain conditions. Business visitors not providing services will also be allowed short-term entry in order to carry out certain activities.

(14) Re Legal Services – the EU and its Member States, and the UK will allow lawyers from the other Party to provide legal services relating specifically to the practice of international law and the law of the country where they are authorised under their “home” title.

However, it should be noted that EU law is not considered to be international law, but instead the law of the Member State in which EU lawyers are established or hold their “home title”.

(15) Re Energy – the UK will leave the EU’s internal energy market on 1st Jan, Northern Ireland will maintain the Single Electricity Market with Ireland (Republic of Ireland) (under the separate Withdrawal Agreement). The EU and the UK have agreed to establish a new framework for their future cooperation in the energy field. The UK Energy (Electricity) Guidance was updated on Dec 24th (see the Brexit Guidance List on Cardinal Environment Registers & Checklists).

The UK also leaves the EU ETS (see the Brexit Guidance List) and Euratom.

The UK will define its own climate change targets and policies and the UK committed to implementing a system of carbon pricing as of 1 January 2021. The Parties agreed a framework for cooperation in the fight against climate change, and their ambition to achieve economy-wide climate neutrality by 2050. The Parties will give serious consideration to linking their respective carbon pricing systems in a way that preserves the integrity of these systems and provides for the possibility to increase their effectiveness, for instance by adding further sectors, such as buildings. This would be subject to an agreement to be negotiated separately in the future.

There are also agreed provisions for cooperation in the development of offshore energy, with a focus on the North Sea.

(16) Re Euratom – the Agreement contains a separate agreement between Euratom and the UK on the safe and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

This Agreement enables:

• the supply and transfer of nuclear material, non-nuclear material, technology and equipment;

• trade and commercial cooperation relating to the nuclear fuel cycle;

• cooperation in the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste;

• nuclear safety and radiation protection;

• use of radioisotopes and radiation in agriculture, industry and medicine;

• geological and geophysical exploration;

• development, production, further processing and use of uranium resources.

(17) Re Rebalancing (Level Playing Field, includes OHS and ENV Standards) – the Agreement provides the possibility to apply unilateral rebalancing measures in the case of significant divergences in the areas of labour and social, environment or climate protection, or of subsidy control, where such divergences materially impact trade or investment between the Parties.

This might be relevant, for example in a situation where one Party would significantly increase its levels of protection related to labour or social standards, the environment or climate above the levels of the other Party. This may entail an increase in the costs of production and hence a competitive disadvantage.

Another example would be a situation where one Party would have a system of subsidy control that would systemically fail to prevent the adoption of trade distorting subsidies, which would provide a competitive advantage for that Party.

In such cases, a Party would be able to adopt measures to rebalance the competitive advantage of the other Party.

Each Party could also, at regular intervals and if rebalancing measures have been taken frequently or for more than 12 months, seek a review of the trade and other economic parts of the Agreeent to ensure an appropriate balance between the commitments in the Agreement on a durable basis. In this case, the Parties could negotiate and amend relevant parts of the Agreement. Any trade or economic part of the Agreement, including aviation, that would remain in place or be renegotiated would retain appropriate level playing field commitments.

(18) Re OHS and ENV – the EU and the UK agreed to uphold levels of protection in the areas reated to labour and social standards, and environment and climate.

Labour and social levels of protection cover the following areas:

• fundamental rights at work;

• occupational health and safety standards;

• fair working conditions and employment standards;

• information and consultation rights at company level; or

• restructuring of undertakings.

Environmental levels of protection include the following areas:

• industrial emissions;

• air emissions and air quality;

• nature and biodiversity conservation;

• waste management;

• the protection and preservation of the aquatic environment;

• the protection and preservation of the marine environment;

• the prevention, reduction and elimination of risks to human health or the environment arising from the production, use, release or disposal of chemical substances; or

• the management of impacts on the environment from agricultural or food production, notably through the use of antibiotics and decontaminants.

The climate level of protection applies to:

• emissions and removals of greenhouse gases covering EU’s and the UK’s respective 2030 economy-wide targets including their systems of carbon pricing; and

• the phasing-out of ozone depleting substances.

(19) Re Further OHS and ENV Provisions – the Agreement contains several guarantees in terms of environmental protection, over and above the non-regression provisions applying to environment, climate and labour and social protection. These include:

• A recognition of the shared biosphere;

• Coverage of future targets that are now in the laws of the parties – the 2030 waste recycling targets, the 2027 water targets and the 2030 air pollution ceilings;

• Full inclusion of the key environment principles, including precautionary principle, polluter pays, and integration principle;

• Full inclusion of the principles of the Aarhus Convention with modernised text, including access to justice, access to information and public participation;

• Effective co-operation mechanism foreseen between the supervisory body or bodies in the UK in terms of protection of the environment, and the Commission;

• The recognition of the relevance of procedures for evaluating the likely impact of a proposed activity on the environment, such as an environmental impact assessment or a strategic environmental assessment.

(20) Re Health/Sanitary Quality in Agri/Foods – the broad scope of the commitment on the environment refers to agricultural and food production. In addition, it specifies two important areas for the level playing field with regards to agriculture and food production, namely the use of antibiotics and decontaminants.

(21) Re Aviation – UK carriers will be able to fly across the territory of the EU without landing; make technical stops in the territory of the EU for non-traffic purposes; and carry passengers and/or cargo on any routes between a given point in the UK and a point in the EU. Also, the Agreement will permit Member States and the UK to bilaterally exchange onward travel (termed 5th freedom) rights for extra-EU all-cargo operations only (e.g. Paris-London-New York).

The Agreement defines new arrangements for the recognition of future design and environmental certificates, as well as for production organisation oversight. Existing design certificates issued under EU rules before 1 Jan will remain valid.

(22) Re Road Transport – the Agreement provides for quota-free point-to-point access for operators transporting goods by road between the EU and the UK. This means UK lorries would be able to reach the EU and return from the EU, including when not loaded. The same rights are conferred to EU hauliers travelling from any point in the EU to the UK, and back from the UK to anywhere in the UK.

UK and EU trucks will also be able to perform up to two additional operations in the other party’s territory, once they have crossed the border.

This will allow EU hauliers that carry a load to the UK to perform two cabotage operations in the UK, thus limiting the risk of having to travel back to the EU without a load. 

For UK hauliers, these additional operations can be composed of two cross-trade operations (i.e. transport operations between two Member States) or one cross-trade and one “cabotage” operation (i.e. a transport operation within two points of a single Member State). Special provisions are made in the case of Ireland, as Northern Irish hauliers will be able to perform two cabotage operations in Ireland.

ECMT holders will be able to do 3 cabotage operations.

Food and Drink Labelling (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

Food and drink producers, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers in Great Britain (GB) must change labels if dealing with the EU from 1 January 2021.

The DEFRA instruction – here – is to contact the EU importer to find out how the EU’s labelling requirements will affect a particular GB export product from 1 Jan 2021.

In the Withdrawal Agreement, a good is ‘placed on the market’ in the EU, when it is first supplied for distribution, consumption, or commercial use, whether free of charge or not.

All food placed on the EU market from 1 January 2021 will need to meet EU rules.

Food business operator (FBO) address

Pre-packaged food and caseins must have an EU or Northern Ireland (NI) address for the FBO, or an address of the EU or NI importer on the packaging or food label.

EU organic logo

The EU organics logo must not be used from 1 January 2021 unless:

• the UK control body is authorised by the EU to certify UK goods for export to the EU

• the UK and the EU agree to recognise each other’s standards (called ‘equivalency’)

Contact the control body to stay up to date.

If the UK and the EU do not reach an equivalency deal, organic food cannot be exported (from GB) to the EU and be labelled organic. Food can still be exported using non-organic labelling if it meets all other marketing standards and any organic labelling is removed or covered.

EU emblem

The EU emblem must not be used on goods produced in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) from 1 January 2021 unless authorised by the EU to do so.

Health and Identifcation Marks (food products of animal origin – POAO)

Information on POAO health and identification marks that apply from 1st Jan 2021 is here.

Country of origin labels

Food from and sold in NI can continue to use ‘origin EU’ from 1 January 2021.

Food from and sold in GB can be labelled as ‘origin EU’ until 30 September 2022.

From 1 October 2022, food from GB must not be labelled as ‘origin EU’.

Please read further in the DEFRA instruction for specifics of particular animal products, and the use of geographical indicators.

Export Health Certificates (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

From 1 January 2021, an export health certificate (EHC) will be required to export products of animal origin from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) to the EU or to move them to Northern Ireland.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency has issued information – here.

If located in Northern Ireland, an EHC is NOT required to export to the EU. Contact DAERA on 02877 442 060 to find out the stipulations.

GB to EU exports or GB to NI movements that are planned for 1 January 2021 onwards should be prepared for by registering to use the new EHC service and drafting applications for EHCs from 13 October 2020.

The official vet or inspector who will certify the EHC should be contacted before any applications are submitted to the EHC service.

The application process for the new EHC service is contained in this link – here.

In England, Scotland and Wales, call APHA on 03000 200 301.

EU Safer Food Package (EU and UK from 1st Jan 2021)

The smarter rules for safer food (SRSF) package is a set of EU regulations for the protection against animal disease and plant pests. The package modernises, simplifies and improves existing health and safety standards for the agri-food chain. It takes a risk-based approach to animal, plant and public health protection, introducing more efficient pest and disease control measures.

The package includes 3 principal EU regulations:

• Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625: how controls across the agri-food chain will be monitored and enforced – applies from 14 December 2019

• Plant Health Regulation (EU) 2016/2031: controls for protecting plants from disease and pests – applies from 14 December 2019

• Animal Health Regulation (EU) 2016/429: a framework for the principles of European animal health – applies from 21 April 2021

The new Official Controls and Plant Health Regulations now apply in the UK. From 1 January 2021, these regulations will be retained by the Withdrawal Act and will continue to apply subject to any amendments Parliament may agree. UK legislation is also enacted.

The new Animal Health Regulation is not applicable until 21 April 2021, after the end of the transition period, and so the UK is not obliged to implement it.

EU Official Controls Regulation 2017/625

The new EU Official Controls Regulation (OCR) was published on 15 March 2017 and will apply in EU member states from 14 December 2019, alongside the Plant Health Regulation.

It sets out mechanisms for ensuring that responsible persons and authorities enforce the rules and must verify that businesses are complying with the legal requirements. It explains what action enforcement authorities must take when they spot such non-compliance. This covers:

• food and food safety, integrity and wholesomeness at any stage of production, processing and distribution of food

• feed and feed safety at any stage of production, processing and distribution of feed and the use of feed

• animal health requirements

• prevention and minimisation of risks to human and animal health emerging from animal by-products and derived products

• welfare requirements for animals

• protective measures against pests of plants

• requirements for the placing on the market and use of plant protection products and the sustainable use of pesticides, with the exception of pesticides application equipment

• organic production and labelling of organic products

• use and labelling of protected designations of origin, protected geographical indications and traditional specialities guaranteed

• deliberate release into the environment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) for the purpose of food and feed production.

The requirements of the OCR legislation cover how inspections, audits and sampling take place. It simplifies the current rules and makes sure there is consistency across the entire agricultural industry and food chain by including plants and plant products and animal by-products.

The OCR simplifies and brings together several existing control rules. It repeals Regulation 882/2004 and Regulation 854/2004.

Some of the areas changing include:

• extending official controls to plant health and animal by-products

• increasing the transparency of controls carried out by national enforcement authorities

• creating a common framework for carrying out border controls on animals and goods entering or crossing the EU

• strengthening controls to identify fraudulent practices at an early stage

• modernising the computerised systems for the management of data and information on official controls

EU Plant Health Regulation 2016/2031

The EU Plant Health Regulation (PHR) was published on 26 October 2016 and will apply to EU member states from 14 December 2019, alongside the Official Controls Regulation.

The new EU PHR sets out controls and restrictions that will apply to imports and internal movement of certain plants, plant pests, and other materials like soil, to help reduce these risks.

The SRSF package revises and improves the current EU plant health legislation. The PHR repeals Directive 2000/29.

Some of the areas changing include:

• extending the scope and changing the format of plant passporting

• new requirements for authorisation to issue plant passports

• more goods imported to the EU will need a phytosanitary certificate

• new requirements for the registration of professional operators

• movements within the EU – restrictions between disease free and pest free areas

• a strengthened protected zone

• new requirements applying to high risk plants and regulated non quarantine pests (RNQPs)

• a more precautionary approach to new trade flows and a commitment to undertake thorough pest risk assessments

• new category of priority pests, including annual surveying requirements and outbreak contingency planning

EU Animal Health Regulation 2016/429

The EU Animal Health Regulation (AHR) was published on 31 March 2016.

The UK and other EU member states are currently in a 5-year implementation period for AHR. The new rules will apply in EU member states from 21 April 2021.

The AHR outlines the principles of European animal health, supporting:

• a quick reaction in cases of emerging animal diseases and controlling outbreaks as effectively and efficiently as possible

• a consistent approach in dealing with different animal health diseases

• reducing the effect of animal disease outbreaks on animal and public health, animal welfare, the economy and the wider rural community

• functioning of the EU internal market in animals and animal products.

The above is not a full list, please read the contents of the webpage – here.

Further useful information is here.

Note: a plant passport is NOT the same as a phytosanitary certificate.

GB-EU Border Checks (UK & EU from 1st Jan 2021)

On 14 July, the EU updated and reissued it’s 1 Jan 2021 Readiness Notice on Customs (dated 22 Nov 2019) and combined the content with the updated and replaced Readiness Notices on Preferential Rules of Origin (dated 4 June 2018) and Customs and Indirect Taxation (dated 30 Jan 2018), here.

The day before, on 13 July, the UK published its Border Operating Model, here. I Blog posted about it at the time.

The Institute for Government in the UK has published a handy explainer – here.

GB to EU trade – From 1 Jan 2021

(1) Full customs declarations (UK export declarations and EU import declarations) will be required.

(2) If applicable, tariffs and import VAT will be payable at the time of import, unless traders are eligible to defer payments.

(3) UK exit summary Safety and Security declaration (or combined fiscal and safety and security declaration) and EU entry summary Safety and Security declaration will be needed.  

(4) Checks according to international conventions (e.g. CITES) will take place.

(5) Full SPS checks will be imposed, including a requirement for UK Export Health Certificates.

(6) Additional requirements will apply to the export of other controlled goods, in line with EU and member state rules.

(7) Excise goods will be subject to the rules applied by the importing EU member state.

EU to GB trade –

From 1 Jan 2021

(1) Full customs declarations will be required for controlled goods (e.g. excise goods like tobacco and alcohol).

(2) For standard goods (most goods), simplified customs requirements will be in place from January. Traders will have to keep sufficient records of their imports, but will be able to defer full customs declarations until 1 July 2021 (although they may submit customs declarations before if they wish).

(3) If applicable, tariffs will be payable, but it will be possible to defer payment until customs declarations are made (no later than July 2021). If applicable, import VAT will be payable, although many traders will be able to defer payment.

(4) An EU exit summary Safety and Security declaration will be needed.

(5) Checks according to international conventions (e.g. CITES) will take place.

(6) Imports of high-risk live animal and plants (and animal and plant products) must be pre-notified to the UK authorities via IPAFFS, have correct health documentation and may be subject to checks. Physical checks will be carried out at the point of destination or other approved premises.

(7) Import licenses and other requirements will apply to the import of some high-risk goods.

(8) Businesses importing excise goods will need to pay GB excise duties using the CHIEF or CDS systems (although excise duties are already payable on excisable imports from the EU).

From April 2021

Imports of all products of animal origin, regulated plants and plant products will require pre-notification to the UK authorities via IPAFFS and must have correct health documentation. Necessary physical checks will take place at the point of destination or other approved premises.

From July 2021

(1) Full customs declarations will need to be made at the time of import for all goods. Some traders may be eligible for simplified declaration procedures.

(2) Any applicable tariffs will be payable on import, although many traders are eligible to defer payments.

(3) A UK entry summary Safety and Security declaration will be needed.  

(4) Products subject to SPS checks will need to transit through a designated Border Control Post equipped to handle the goods in question and be subject to checks. Goods will subject to an increased rate of physical checks.

DEFRA SPS standards (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

Lord Gardiner of Kimble made the following statements concerning the SPS standards regime that will operate from 1st Jan 2021 – (these statements made in the final reading of the Agriculture Bill at the House of Lords)

[note: goods placed on the NI market will need to comply with EU law where it’s listed in the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol]

(1) The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland will apply to imports under new free trade agreements. For example, regulated food products will need to pass the FSA’s risk analysis process before being placed on the local market. The FSA has doubled the number of risk assessors since 2017. It can draw on the expertise of 100 scientific experts and support staff and has recruited 35 additional members to its advisory committees. It has also taken wider consumer interest into account, such as the impact on the environment, animal welfare and food security, drawing on appropriate expertise and stakeholders to do so. The expertise of other government departments and agencies will be brought to bear in the risk assessment process, as required, including the Animal and Plant Health Agency and Defra officials.

(2) Equivalence will be considered by experts in the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the Food Standards Agency. The expert advice and evidence on regulated products will then be presented to Ministers and devolved Administrations for a decision on whether these products should be placed on the local market. Secondary legislation would need to be laid before Parliament to authorise new regulated products to be placed on the market.

(3) The functions of audit and inspection, currently carried out by the European Commission, will be repatriated to ensure that trading partners continue to meet local import conditions for food and feed safety, animal and plant health and animal welfare. This will include officials auditing the food production systems and rules of other countries and carrying out inspection visits to facilities in the countries themselves. Verification that requirements are being carried out as stipulated will be conducted through checks at the border. Audits will ensure that trading partners have the necessary infrastructure and regulation in place to export safe food and animal products, which either meet or exceed local import conditions, and will then ensure that these standards are maintained.

(4) The UK Government will take a science-based approach to SPS measures and take their own sovereign decisions on standards and regulations, in line with the principles of the WTO SPS agreement and other relevant internationally recognised guidance.

[Information on the WTO SPS agreement is here – note, it does not of itself set out SPS standards]

(5) Food labelling rules apply to all food intended for supply to final consumers or to caterers. Imported food needs to be fully compliant before it is placed on the local market. The name and address of the local food business, or the importer, will be required on the label from 1st Jan 2021. There are no exceptions to food labelling rules for imported food.

(6) Re Northern Ireland. The withdrawal agreement joint committee met again on 16 July and the Northern Ireland Executive representative again attended, in line with the New Decade, New Approach deal. They exchanged updates on implementation of the protocol and discussed preparatory work for future decisions.

(7) Re quotas that form part of the commitments within the UK goods schedule, which has been lodged at the WTO. The UK has already agreed a common approach with the EU to apportion EU 28 tariff-rate quotas between the UK and EU 27 in order to ensure existing trade flows are maintained. Legislation will be presented by the Treasury later this year under the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018 to establish new tariff quotas in UK law.

(8) Re Use of gene editing. Until 2018, there was uncertainty within the EU as to whether the living products of gene editing technology should be subject to the same regulatory framework as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), because the legal definition of a GMO was open to interpretation.

In 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that gene edited products must be treated in the same way as GMOs, even if the changes to their genetic material could have been produced by traditional methods, such as crossing varieties of the same species and selecting only the improved individuals.

The UK Government is committed to taking a more scientific approach to regulation.

Gene-edited changes to genetic material that would not arise naturally or from traditional breeding methods will still need to be regulated as genetically modified organisms. The UK Government will consult on this issue. Defra is working on the details so that a consultation can be launched in the autumn.

Further details are set out in the Hansard record – here.

EU-UK Readiness post 1st Jan 2021 (UK 1st Jan 2021)

Yesterday, 13 July, the UK published its Border Operating Model (206 page Policy Paper) that will apply from 1st Jan 2021 for GB trade with the EU – here.

In addition, HMRC information for traders importing or exporting goods between Britain (GB) and the EU after 1st Jan 2021 is published – here.

HMRC also has guidance on declaring goods brought into GB from the EU after 1st Jan 2021 (update from 10 July) – here.

Specific instructions –

(1) Plants and plant products (update from 10 June) – here

(2) Animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin (update from 10 June) – here

In addition, the Forestry Commission’s guidance on importing wood, wood products or bark from non-EU countries is updated – here.

Protocols for GB trade with NI, and NI trade with the EU (including Ireland) will be published later this month (the UK government said yesterday 13 July).

I Blog posted a few days ago on EU-UK Readiness on the EU side.