COVID-19 Workplace Guidance (England)

Yesterday (25 May) saw the key Working Safely guidance for different workplaces (issued 11 May) updated to reflect industry feedback and to expand coverage of non essential retail categories ahead of planned opening.

On the 19 May, the 5 steps for businesses to take were added – here. Please note (as I posted before, check back on my Blog, the risk assessments of larger businesses must be published on their websites).

You should share the results of your risk assessment with your employees. If possible, you should consider publishing it on your website (and we would expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so).

Notice that should be displayed in the workplace – here.

The Working Safely Guidance link is here.

Please note the links to the guidance issued in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where the timetable of non-essential business re-opening differs.

Non-essential retail in England will re-open in June, as set out in the PM timeline issued yesterday 25 May –

• Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. As with garden centres, the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces. Car showrooms often have significant outdoor space and it is generally easier to apply social distancing.

• All other non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, will be expected to be able to reopen from 15 June if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare.

Certain businesses and activities must remain closed – see here. This is underpinned by enacted law.

UK-EU Comprehensive Trade Deal (UK Brexit)

Today the UK Government published its policy paper setting out its approach to negotiations for a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) with its neighbours, the EU27 bloc. The document is here.

Key aspects –

* It is a vision of a relationship based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals, with both parties respecting one another’s legal autonomy and right to manage their own resources as they see fit. Whatever happens, the Government will not negotiate any arrangement in which the UK does not have control of its own laws and political life. That means that we will not agree to any obligations for our laws to be aligned with the EU’s, or for the EU’s institutions, including the Court of Justice, to have any jurisdiction in the UK.

* The Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) should be – on the lines of the FTAs already agreed by the EU in recent years with Canada and with other friendly countries.

* The CFTA should be supplemented by a range of other international agreements covering, principally, fisheries, law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, transport, and energy.

* All these agreements should have their own appropriate and precedented governance arrangements, with no role for the Court of Justice.

The EU27 and the UK confirm a progress review will take place in June (this was in the Withdrawal Agreement). In the event that progress is not made, the EU27 and the UK will revert to No Deal. [The Withdrawal Agreement includes an option to extend the transition period for 1-2 years.]

Please note, the Brexit Notices issued by the EU27 and the UK in 2018 and 2019 set out the arrangements that would have applied in 2019 if the Withdrawal Agreement was not agreed (No Deal). The Withdrawal Agreement having been agreed, connectivity, on for the most part the same basis as before, is provided to the end of the transition period (Dec 2020) – the period we are in at the moment.

The 2018/2019 Brexit Notices now apply to No (EU-UK relations) Deal from 1st January 2021. Some updates, notably to processes, documents and dates, are included (as you will have been noticing as I have been posting on this blog).

Whilst it is envisaged that a basic level of travel connectivity will continue after end Dec, organisations and individuals wherever located should now prepare for the new arrangements, tariffs etc, between the EU27 and the UK, that will apply from 1st January 2021. This Blog does not notify on customs, VAT or tariffs, it is focused on ENV and OHS related regulatory matters.

Please keep following this Blog, as further details of the arrangements that will apply for ENV and OHS related regulatory matters from 1st January 2021, are published.

Please note, we expect to meet the deadline for supply of the necessary new UK Registers & Checklists (in all regional variants) by 1st January 2021.

Subscribers will note that provision is already starting to appear on their existing websites.

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 Law in UK 2021 (2) (UK Brexit)

UPDATE (24th Jan) : correction – the main combined cycle waste law was enacted in 2018, but the Single-Use Plastics Directive was enacted in 2019. The EU 2018 updates to the waste law (combined cycle) will be implemented. The Single-Use Plastics Directive will not be implemented.

EU Law enacted in 2019 with two year (or more) implementation deadlines in 2021 would not be implemented.

Exit day is 31st January (next Friday)

EU law continues to be enacted. I posted before about long tail implementation deadlines. I said in that post that the combined cycle waste law and other waste law updates enacted in 2019 with two year or minus more implementation deadlines would be implemented in the UK.

However, on 16th January, the BEIS Secretary answered as follows re the 2019 EU Copyright Directive –

The deadline for implementing the EU Copyright Directive is 7 June 2021. The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 31 January 2020 and the Implementation Period will end on 31 December 2020. The Government has committed not to extend the Implementation Period. Therefore, the United Kingdom will not be required to implement the Directive, and the Government has no plans to do so. Any future changes to the UK copyright framework will be considered as part of the usual domestic policy process.

Please continue to follow this Blog for further updates.

UKCA Mark (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st October (this is the date in a Statutory Instrument)

Please remember the UK is bringing in a new UKCA Mark, applicable after Exit day.

The Feb issued instructions on UKCA Mark are here.

This applies to certified goods sold in the UK.

Please follow the links carefully, as some goods will require the UKCA Mark immediately after Exit day.

Other goods will be able to continue with the CE Mark for a limited period.

National Food Strategy – call for evidence (UK England)

Exit day is 31st October.

Today HMG announced a call for evidence to help build a new National Food Strategy for England. Closing date is 25th October 2019.

On 27 June, Defra’s Secretary of State commissioned Henry Dimbleby to conduct an independent review to help HMG create a new National Food Strategy for England (the last one dates 75 years ago).

The purpose of the review is to address the environmental and health problems caused by the food system, to ensure the security of food supply, and to maximise the benefits of emerging agricultural technology.

The terms of reference for the Review is here.

A separate National Food Strategy onsite site has been created and this is the page on that site about the engagement – here.

The online address of the National Food Strategy site is here.

The Review will be published Summer 2020.

The Call for Evidence Closing Date is 25th October 2019 and see the Programme of Engagement on the National Food Strategy site here.

HMG stated it will publish a summary of responses 12 weeks after the consultation closes.

The Call for Evidence is accessed here (and from the National Food Strategy site).

This is a wide ranging exercise, covering obesity, food security, land management, fishing, animal welfare.

The National Food Strategy will examine activity across several departments of state, and build on the Brexit Agriculture and Fisheries Bills, the Industrial Strategy, the Childhood Obesity Plan and the proposed Environment Bill.

Statement about the UK Political Situation (this Blog does not post about Politics, this Statement is now added to Posts where the political situation could alter the content, timing or otherwise affect, the Post itself).

(1) HMG has a majority of one.

(2) Steps are being discussed by Opposition Parties and some backbenchers to prevent a No Deal, in September.

Imported Clothing Labelling (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st October.

HMG has yesterday issued two instructions confirming the no change situation re shoes and textiles labelling on imports, bar the manufacturer’s authorised agent must be based in the UK (not the EU).

Footwear – here.

Textiles – here.

Exports to the EU will need to comply with EU rules for imports from third countries.

EU Brexit Preparedness Notices – here.

EU Brexit Customs and Taxation and related information – here.