Border Controls from 1st Jan 2021 (EU Goods Imports)

The UK Government has today (12 June 2020) announced that border controls for EU goods imported into Great Britain will be introduced at the end of Transition Period in stages.

The announcement is here.

This staged approach will apply to EU goods imports to GB only. The EU will enforce the checks required by EU Law in its side of the border, there are no announcements for facilitation applicable to GB goods exports to the EU.

Per the Government announcement –

• From January 2021: Traders importing standard goods, covering everything from clothes to electronics, will need to prepare for basic customs requirements, such as keeping sufficient records of imported goods, and will have up to six months to complete customs declarations. While tariffs will need to be paid on all imports, payments can be deferred until the customs declaration has been made. There will be checks on controlled goods like alcohol and tobacco. Businesses will also need to consider how they account for VAT on imported goods. There will also be physical checks at the point of destination or other approved premises on all high risk live animals and plants.

• From April 2021: All products of animal origin (POAO) – for example meat, pet food, honey, milk or egg products – and all regulated plants and plant products will also require pre-notification and the relevant health documentation.

• From July 2021: Traders moving all goods will have to make declarations at the point of importation and pay relevant tariffs. Full Safety and Security declarations will be required, while for SPS commodities there will be an increase in physical checks and the taking of samples: checks for animals, plants and their products will now take place at GB Border Control Posts.

An EU to GB (EU goods imports to GB) border operating model will be published by the UK in July 2020.

Trade flows between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or between GB and Northern Ireland are separate and covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

The UK Global Tariff will apply to all goods imported into the UK from 1 January 2021, unless an exception applies. The measures announced today will not apply to third countries outside of the EU. Full import controls will continue to apply on trade between the UK and third countries outside of the EU and EEA.

As I commented in earlier Blog posts, commencing August 2020, we (Cardinal Environment) will be putting some staff through the UK Customs Academy Level 4 Certificate in Advanced Customs Compliance (tariffs and customs training). This is to facilitate client queries in the foreseeable.

UK implementation of Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol (Northern Ireland)

The UK government has today published its approach to implementing the Ireland-Northern Ireland Protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement that was signed with the European Union.

The Protocol sets up special arrangements that stem from the Withdrawal Agreement and apply in Northern Ireland from 1st January 2021, until at least 2024, when the first four-year consent vote process contained in the Protocol is initiated.

The Protocol covers a range of areas: human rights, the Common Travel Area, customs and trade, regulation of manufactured goods, the Single Electricity Market, some limited state aid provisions, and VAT and excise. The paper published today sets out the UK’s thinking in all of these areas. But the core of the Protocol is the provisions on customs and trade. It is these areas which are covered in most detail in the document.

It is the responsibility of the UK Government and UK authorities to give effect to the Protocol in Northern Ireland. The Protocol has as Annex 2, a list of EU law that will continue to apply in Northern Ireland – at least 2021 to 2024.

The UK approach is set out in a Cabinet Office Command Paper – here.

The paper sets out four key commitments that will underpin the UK Government’s approach to implementing the Protocol:

• There will be unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s producers to the whole of the UK market and this will be delivered through legislation by the end of the year.

• No tariffs will be paid on goods that move and remain within the UK customs territory

• Implementation of the Protocol will not involve new customs infrastructure – with any processes on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland kept to an absolute minimum so that the integrity and smooth functioning of the UK internal market is protected.

• Northern Ireland’s businesses will benefit from the lower tariffs delivered through our new Free Trade Agreements with countries like the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan – ensuring Northern Ireland firms will be able to enjoy the full benefits of the unique access they have to the GB and EU markets.

Today’s publication also sets out plans to establish a new business engagement forum, which will meet regularly to allow Northern Ireland’s businesses to put forward proposals and provide feedback on how to maximise the free flow of trade. The Northern Ireland Executive will be invited to join the forum.

The Withdrawal Agreement is administered by a Joint EU-UK Committee set up under the Agreement, and both the Agreement and the Protocol have dispute mechanisms.

More detail is expected, and accordingly I will write more Blog posts.

UK-EU Future Relations (UK)

Today sees the publication by the UK of a number of trade relevant documents –

(1) the UK Global Tariff (UKGT) that will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff from 1st January 2021 – here

(2) the draft UK legal texts in the ongoing trade talks with the EU – here

The UKGT will apply to all goods imported into the UK unless:

• an exception applies, such as a relief or tariff suspension

• the goods come from countries that are part of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences

• the country imported from has a trade agreement with the UK

This Blog does not focus on Trade or Customs. Note – commencing in July 2020, we (Cardinal Environment Limited) will be putting some staff through the UK Customs Academy Level 4 qualification, this is in order to improve our services in the areas of Trade and Customs, that impinge on goods movement.

Trade talks are underway with the EU and the US.

The UK Government will announce shortly it’s proposals for how Northern Ireland based traders will benefit from the UKGT. The Withdrawal Agreement Ireland-Northern Ireland Protocol creates special arrangements for Northern Ireland. I will Blog post separately at that point.

COVID-19 England Restriction Changes (England)

Last night, the UK Prime Minister addressed the nation signalling changes to the England COVID-19 Restrictions rules and guidance.

The transcript of this address (10 May) as delivered is here.

The Scottish First Minister had earlier in the day confirmed no changes in Scotland, and this had been followed by similar announcements by the leaders of the other devolved administrations, Wales and Northern Ireland.

At 2pm today, 50 pages of detail will be published, these will relate to England. At 3.30pm the UK Prime Minister will present a Ministerial Statement of the new COVID-19 Strategy to Parliament, and a debate will follow.

Tomorrow, 11 May, will see publication of new workplace guidance (I posted about this some days ago) and also new transport guidance.

I will post again when the 50 pages of detail is published.

A few details from the 10 May address (with additions from this morning’s press and media briefings and Ministers answering questions from the public) –

(1) changes will be made to outdoor exercise and transport rules, applying from Wednesday 12 May (England)

(2) those workplaces not listed in the restrictions law that had shut anyway should reopen from Wednesday 12 May (England) (adhering to new workplace guidance issued tomorrow 11 May)

(3) new transport guidance will be issued tomorrow 11 May for workers not able to work from home

(4) new outdoor exercise rules will apply from Wednesday 12 May (England)

(5) new published COVID-19 alert message (England)

(6) new published COVID19 alert levels (England)

(7) 14-day quarantine for arrivals at ports and airports (England) (date as yet unspecified)

Truckers’ Mobility Package (EU)

Two new EU Regulations and one EU Directive are being adopted imminently.

The Market Access Regulationhere – will become applicable 18 months after the Regulation enters into force

The Market Access Regulation sets rules on transport operations carried out within a national market outside a transport operator’s own country (‘cabotage’), the current system allowing a maximum of 3 operations in 7 days will remain unchanged. To prevent systematic cabotage, a ‘cooling-off’ period of 4 days will be introduced before further cabotage operations can be carried out in the same country using the same vehicle. A member state may apply these same rules to road legs of combined transport in its territory.

The Market Access Regulation will not apply in the UK.

The Posting Directivehere – will also become applicable 18 months after the Directive enters into force

The Posting Directive clarifies rules on the posting of drivers specifically how professional drivers in goods or passenger transport will benefit from the principle of the same pay for the same work at the same place. The general rule will be that if an operation is organised in such a way that the link between the driver’s work and the country of establishment remains intact, the driver will be excluded from posting rules. This means that bilateral transport operations are explicitly excluded. On the way to the destination country and on the way back, one additional activity of loading and/or unloading goods is permitted in both directions without falling under the posting regime, or there may be zero activity on the way out and up to two activities permitted on the way back. Transit is also excluded. For all other types of operations, including cabotage, the full posting regime will apply from the first day of the operation. Similar rules will apply to the carriage of passengers, with one additional stop during bilateral operations. The posting rules will also create a unified control standard, based on a communication tool developed by the Commission, to which the transport operator can send its posting declarations directly.

The Posting Directive will not apply in the UK.

The Driving Times Regulationhere – will apply 20 days after publication, with the exception of special deadlines for tachographs

The rules on maximum work and minimum rest times for drivers will remain unchanged. However, a degree of flexibility will be introduced in the organisation of work schedules for drivers in international freight transport to enable them to spend more time at home. Drivers will also have the right to return home every three or four weeks, depending on their work schedule.

The new rules confirm that the regular weekly rest period (at least 45 hours) must be spent outside the vehicle. If this rest period is taken away from home, the accommodation must be paid for by the employer.

Although the regular weekly rest period cannot be taken in a parking area, the EU will promote the construction and use of safe and secure parking areas. The Commission will develop standards and a certification procedure for such parking areas through secondary legislation. It will also create a website to make it easier to find these areas.

The Driving Times Regulation will apply in the UK, as Retained EU Law.

The three documents are, however, linked, it is a package. Since one will apply in the UK and the others will not, we will need to wait further instruction on the detail.

For example (re linkage) – to ensure a level playing field between operators using different vehicles, rules on access to the European road haulage market, as well as driving and rest-time rules, will be extended to cover vans used in international transport (light commercial vehicles of over 2.5 tonnes), with a transition period of 21 months for market supervision, and until the middle of 2026 for tachograph and rest‑time rules.

Also (re linkage) to combat the phenomenon of ‘letterbox companies’, the new package tightens the link between the transport operator’s place of establishment and its activities. To ensure that the link is genuine, trucks in international transport will have to return to the company’s operational centre at least once every eight weeks. This eight-week period is designed to allow drivers to return home, together with the vehicle, at the end of their second four-weekly work cycle.

One key element for improving enforcement is having a reliable way to register when and where the truck has crossed a border and to localise loading and unloading activities. The second version of the smart tachograph will do all this automatically. It will be introduced in three different stages for vehicles carrying out international transport. New trucks will have to be fitted with this device in 2023; those vehicles which have an analogue or digital tachograph will have to be retrofitted by the end of 2024; and those equipped with a ‘version 1’ smart tachograph, in 2025.

To improve cross-border monitoring of compliance, the text also modernises the rules for information sharing and administrative cooperation between member states.

Brexit and COVID-19 measures (EU)

The UK left the EU at end of January 2020, and will leave the transition period at end of December 2020.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11th March 2020.

These two events are prompting substantive changes in many occupational, health and safety, and environment related measures in EU member states and at EU level.

The EU’s Brexit measures are found here.

[the first round of negotiations on a trade deal with the UK to operate from 1st January 2021 was held 2-5 March, the second round is not scheduled]

[the EU published a new draft legal text on 18 March here, new UK legal texts submitted to the EU in March are not published]

The EU’s COVID-19 measures are found here.

[note the measures announced to keep air cargo moving – here]

The EU’s Brexit and the COVID-19 measures are rooted in law. Cardinal Environment Limited advises on occupational health and safety law and environmental law via Email Alert to subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists. The next Email Alert on EU-26 Registers & Checklists will be at the next 6-month interval (as usual). Ireland receives monthly Email Alerts due to its connectivity with the UK (its next Email Alert is end of March unless otherwise a different interval is operated).

Subscribers are reminded that they can request Annual Review (a teleconference) on renewal of annual subscriptions, and this is recommended.

Of particular note are –

(1) changes around borders, goods transport and people mobility to keep the Single Market open during the COVID-19 pandemic

(2) measures that may result from the EU-UK trade deal negotiations

Individual member states will be operating internal COVID-19 emergency –

(1) changes around workplace organisation, particularly additional requirements to keep the workplace safe and provide for home working

(2) temporary bans on the opening of some business premises on health grounds

(3) changes around worker employment (this Blog does not address detailed matters of Employment Law)

COVID-19 EU Single Market Green Lanes (EU)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11th March.

On 16th March, the European Commission adopted Guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services.

These Guidelines stress the principle that all EU internal borders should stay open to freight and that the supply chains for essential products must be guaranteed. The free flow of goods, especially in times of emergency and in the interest of all, requires that Member States respect and fully implement the Guidelines at all border-crossings at internal borders.

A separate European Commission Communication – here – is designed to help Member States implement the Guidelines as regards the green lanes.

As the document states, it is intended to engender a cooperative process across the EU to ensure all freight, including but not limited to essential goods such as food and medical supplies, gets quickly to its destination without any delays.

Per the Communication summary –

In order to preserve the EU-wide operation of supply chains and ensure the functioning of the Single Market for goods, wherever internal border controls exist or have been introduced Member States are requested to designate immediately all the relevant internal border-crossing points of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) and additional ones to the extent deemed necessary, as “green lane” border crossings – for land (road and rail), sea and air transport.

Going through these “green lane” border crossings, including any checks and health screening of transport workers, should not exceed 15 minutes on internal land borders. The “green lane” border crossings should be open to all freight vehicles carrying any type of goods.

Member States should act immediately to temporarily suspend all types of road access restrictions in place in their territory (week-end bans, night bans, sectoral bans, etc.) for road freight transport and for the necessary free movement of transport workers.

Transport workers, irrespective of their nationality and place of residence, should be allowed to cross internal borders. Restrictions such as travel restrictions and mandatory quarantine of transport workers, should be waived, without prejudice for competent authorities to take proportionate and specifically adapted measures to minimise the risk of contagion.

Brexit and COVID-19 measures (UK)

The UK left the EU at end of January 2020, and will leave the transition period at end of December 2020.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11th March 2020.

These two events are prompting substantive changes in many occupational, health and safety, and environment related measures in the UK (substantive measures are also being taken in other countries, and at EU level).

The UK’s Brexit measures are found here.

[the vast majority of the UK’s Brexit measures are unchanged since any update made in February 2020]

The UK’s COVID-19 measures are found here.

[the vast majority of the UK’s COVID-19 measures date March 2020]

The UK’s Brexit and the COVID-19 measures are rooted in law. Cardinal Environment Limited advises on occupational health and safety law and environmental law via Email Alert to subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists. The next Email Alert on UK Registers & Checklists will be at end March (the monthly UK Email Alert as usual).

Subscribers are reminded that they can request Annual Review (a teleconference) on renewal of annual subscriptions.

Of particular note are –

(1) changes around borders

(2) changes around goods transport

(3) changes around people mobility, including across borders

(4) changes around workplace organisation, particularly additional requirements to keep the workplace safe and provide for home working

(5) temporary bans on the opening of some business premises on health grounds

(6) changes around worker employment (this Blog does not address detailed matters of Employment Law)

Coronavirus Bill (UK)

UPDATE (Thursday 19th March) : all stages of the Coronavirus Bill will be taken in the Commons on Monday (not today) – the timetable in the Lords is not published

As we are all aware, coronavirus COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020.

The UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has identified that to effectively manage this coronavirus outbreak in the UK, new fast-tracked legislation is required – termed the Coronavirus Bill.

The legislation will be time-limited – for 2 years – and not all of these measures will come into force immediately. The bill allows the 4 UK governments to switch on these new powers when they are needed, and, crucially, to switch them off again once they are no longer necessary, based on the advice of Chief Medical Officers of the 4 nations.

This Blog does not focus on the specifics of the healthcare sector or social care, but there are some areas in this Bill, that this Blog does track – the Bill :

(1) enables the Home Secretary to request that port and airport operators temporarily close and suspend operations if Border Force staff shortages result in a real and significant threat to the UK’s border security. This is to ensure the UK can maintain adequate border security throughout the pandemic and protect the public from the threat of criminality or importation of prohibited items that could result from an inadequately controlled border. This would only be used in extremis, where necessary and proportionate, and any direction will be kept to the minimum period necessary to maintain the security of the UK border

(2) enables the government to restrict or prohibit events and gatherings during the pandemic in any place, vehicle, train, vessel or aircraft, any movable structure and any offshore installation and, where necessary, to close premises

(3) enables the police and immigration officers to detain a person, for a limited period, who is, or may be, infectious and to take them to a suitable place to enable screening and assessment

(4) requires industry to provide information about food supplies, in the event that an industry partner does not co-operate with current voluntary information-sharing arrangements during a period of potential disruption.

Link to details about the Coronavirus Bill.

This Bill is expected to become law on Thursday.