EU NIP announcements (Northern Ireland)

On 13 October, the EU announced its October 2021 package of proposed measures to amend the Northern Ireland Protocol (to the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement). This October 2021 package is here. (scroll down)

The October 2021 package is a series of “non papers”, these are not binding. The UK has it’s similar not binding “command paper” issued July – here. Both sets of documents contain a certain amount of spin.

UKG (UK Government) and the EU will discuss the documents over the next weeks. In the meantime, UKG had already extended indefinitely existing NIP grace periods and this is reflected in UKG Brexit Guidance (instructions) found collated in Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists.

The Northern Ireland Protocol regulates Northern Ireland’s access to the EU single market, but also affects it’s arrangements with the rest of the UK. This has since 1 Jan 2021 impacted on goods movements from Britain (GB) to Northern Ireland (UKG itself relaxed NIP rules for movement from Northern Ireland to GB); and it’s state aid rules.

Governance of the Northern Ireland Protocol arrangements is currently by the ECJ or CJEU as the court is known as in the EU. It is also an ask of UKG that this governance be altered and the role of the ECJ removed. This was a UKG ask at the time of negotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

In the event that agreement is not reached between the parties (UKG unilateral extension of grace periods is itself not agreed), it is open to one or the other to take unilateral action.

Further announcements are awaited.

Framework for Better Regulation (UK)

The government yesterday initiated a consultation on its plans to reform its Framework for Better Regulation. The consultation is here.

Better Regulation is a principles-led process of evaluating legislation before it’s proposed and enacted, and then after it is enacted. Better Regulation also exists at EU level.

In the UK, (per the explanation in the document) –

Better Regulation is designed to ensure that government regulation is proportionate and is only used where alternative non-regulatory approaches would not achieve the desired policy outcomes. The framework enables ministerial decisions to be based on robust analysis of the costs and benefits of different options, including the direct costs on businesses, and means that decision making is clear and transparent. The framework helps ensure that new burdens are only imposed where there is clear evidence they will generate sufficient benefits for society, and that measures are implemented and enforced in a way that is easier for businesses to deal with.

The revisions propose increasing the outcomes orientation of regulation –

(1) delegating more power and discretion to the UK’s regulatory bodies, removing many of the detailed rules in the existing statutory frameworks to make them less prescriptive (replacing them with outcomes to be achieved), and allowing the regulatory regime to be shaped more by case law.

(2) Parliament should set out only what is prohibited or the outcomes to be achieved, in plain English, and set out any parameters within which regulators would need to operate to meet these outcomes, but then giving regulators appropriate powers and discretion over how to do so, rather than legislation setting out all of the rules that businesses have to comply with in detail.

(3) regulators would still set out some detail in rules and guidance but would have flexibility to change these without having to petition the Government to introduce further legislation. This would give regulators the freedom to regulate based on whether the outcomes set by Parliament are being achieved rather than whether a particular rule has been followed. Where regulators provide for detailed rules or processes, they would also be able to provide for exemptions and waivers to reach the outcomes set out by Parliament in the most sensible way.

The Government wants to identify areas where the envisaged benefits of a move to a less codified, more common law focused approach are likely to be the greatest, and areas where the Government should be more cautious about adopting such an approach.

The government is also seeking responses on its proposals to replace the Precautionary Principle with a Principle of Proportionality. Pages 21 and 22 in the consultation document set this out. This would be a major departure.

Please read the other sections of the document for further questions.

Consultation ends 1st October 2021.

[if the focus changes to a more outcomes-led Regulation in the UK (Britain) in this manner, then we would, in Cardinal Environment, need to start analysing and reporting on case law (i.e. the common law as this document puts it) in this jurisdiction]

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.

UK Border 2020 : preparedness (UK)

Civil service evidence given to MPs (select committee) yesterday expresses growing confidence that — contrary to recent predictions from industry groups — preparations would be completed on time for the new UK-EU trade border that will come into force on January 1, including computer systems, lorry parks, customs agents and vets required to complete export declarations to the EU.

The link is here.

Alex Chisholm, the permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office said that “huge advances” had been made in preparations since research was conducted for a damning National Audit Office report published earlier this month which predicted the UK was likely to face “widespread disruption”.

The sole Red designation is “Trader Readiness”, particularly amongst small traders.

Nonetheless, Export Health Certificates are an acknowledged cost, for GB to NI agrifood movement, and some items (bans) remain “in conversation with the EU”, as does “At Risk” tariff bearing goods, for those movements.

Chemicals firms trading in the GB market also face costs with reregistration in UK REACH, and further time (up to 6 yrs for small tonnages) is being given by government for data extract from EU database (see the Chemicals section of the Brexit Guidance List in subscriber’s EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists).

We (at Cardinal Environment Limited) have now commenced populating the new EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists that will go live on 1st January 2021. A further update will be in the November Email Alert.

UK-EU Free Trade Agreement (UK Brexit)

The UK government issued today (17th March 2020) the statement set out below –

In light of the latest guidance on coronavirus, we will not formally be convening negotiating work strands tomorrow in the way we did in the previous round.

We expect to share a draft FTA alongside the draft legal texts of a number of the standalone agreements in the near future still, as planned.

Both sides remain fully committed to the negotiations and we remain in regular contact with the European Commission to consider alternative ways to continue discussions, including looking at the possibility of video conferencing or conference calls, and exploring flexibility in the structure for the coming weeks.

The transition period ends on 31 December 2020. This is enshrined in UK law.

The Withdrawal Agreement (the international treaty between the UK and the EU) allows the UK to apply (by end June) to extend the transition period for up to two years.

EU Law in UK 2021 (UK Brexit)

I am being asked about 2019 dated EU Law and its application to or implementation in the UK from 1st January 2021. For example,

* 2019 amendments to the Carcinogens Directive

* 2019 Single-Use Plastics Directive

* 2019 Explosives Precursors Regulation

UK (EU Exit) Statutory Instruments (regulations) and sections of Brexit Bills make changes to the existing statute base, and adopt EU Regulations (not Directives), to enable a standalone statute base as at the end of the Transition Period. This work project can be followed in the supplied Brexit Law List and the Brexit Consolidated Law List.

From 1st January 2021, we will reflect this in the content and the changed structure of the Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists for GB systems. Retained EU Law (labelled Brexit Retained EU Law) will replace EU Law at the head of the Registers.

EU Law (applying in EU27) will still be supplied, but it will be found at the base of the Registers, below Regulatory Guidance.

The Checklists and Summaries will be adjusted.

The systems for individual EU27 countries are unaffected, obviously, their content and Register layout will stay as is.

Northern Ireland is a special case, some EU laws (covered by the Withdrawal Agreement) will continue to show at the head of the Registers (a second category labelled Withdrawal Agreement EU Law), the rest will show, as for GB Registers, at the base of the Registers. The Checklists and Summaries will be adjusted.

We are working to a deadline of 31st December 2020 for this system content and Register layout change, and the system navigation is already altered to provide for it.

From 1st January 2021, if a 2019 EU Law is mirrored in GB (Withdrawal Agreement listed Goods EU Law will be mirrored in Northern Ireland), this will be via enactment of new UK/GB Law. Such new UK/GB law will appear in the normal centre of the Registers, and be Email Alerted in the normal way.

From 1st January 2021, GB system Email Alerts will focus on UK/GB Law.

Northern Ireland system Email Alerts will include Listed Withdrawal Agreement Goods EU Law.

EU27 system Email Alerts will continue as is.

This Blog will continue to be used for heads-up, including EU Law more widely, as it is used by all subscribers.

Regulatory Support will continue to handle all enquiries, irrespective of the category of law.

International Road Haulage (UK Brexit)

The UK Road Haulage Association (RHA) expects no cabotage from 1st January 2021. It recommends UK firms start preparing for the ending of cabotage from January 2021.

The RHA has updated its Brexit Operator Checklist – here. Please review.

Whilst some aspects are listed as “subject to negotiation”, a number of line entries in the Checklist are now more specific. This reflects announcements made by the UK Government and the EU Commission.

Freeports Consultation (UK Brexit)

Yesterday (10th Feb) the UK government announced the start of its consultation on its plan to create 10 freeports in locations across the UK.

The consultation deadline is 20th April.

The Freeports consultation document (UK’s Freeports policy) is here.

The consultation includes policies which relate to the whole of the UK, as well as some which are devolved. Where a policy is devolved, the proposals in the consultation apply to England; responsibility for policy development and implementation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland lies with the devolved administrations. The document states the –

UK Government intends to work in partnership with the devolved administrations to develop proposals which enable the creation of Freeports in all nations of the UK.

(1) Tariffs and Customs – Customs and tariffs policy is reserved to the UK Government. The opportunity for customs and tariff benefits would be available UK-wide.

(2) Tax – Some aspects of tax policy are devolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This section consults on tax policies which vary in scope, with some applying UK wide, some in England and Northern Ireland, and others in England only.

(3) Planning – Proposals on permitted development rights and zonal planning relate to England only. Proposals on the National Policy Statement for Ports relate to England and Wales.

(4) Regeneration – Infrastructure, skills and housing are devolved matters and the proposals cover England only. Trade and investment promotion is a “concurrent” power. This means that whilst the UK Government has primacy over trade and investment promotion in the UK, the devolved administrations also pursue promotion activity on behalf of businesses in their nations.

(5) Innovation – Innovation policy is UK wide; although some aspects of university funding are devolved matters, we hope to hear from stakeholders across the UK on these proposals.

The summary of questions is on page 40 of the document’s 48 pages.

For example, Q1 asks To what extent do you agree/disagree that the reduced declaration requirements for moving goods into a Freeport represent a useful simplification of the administration of customs processes?

Note the UK government announcement yesterday of the return of physical border checks and paperwork for EU goods imports from 1st Jan 2021 (Blog post yesterday).

Q8 asks What do you see as the advantages and/or disadvantages of an inland Freeport site compared to a Freeport site which is adjacent to a port?

Q11 asks To what extent would the suspension of import VAT be of value to your business?

Note yesterday’s UK government press release did not confirm the VAT deferral scheme.

Import Controls (UK Brexit)

From 1st January 2021, import controls will apply for EU goods entering Britain.

The Withdrawal Agreement Protocol will apply to trade between Britain and Northern Ireland, and between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Business is directed to prepare for border controls by making sure it has an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number, and also looking into how declarations should be made, such as by using a customs agent.

The UK Government will ensure facilitations currently available to rest of the world traders will also be open to those trading between GB and EU.

The press announcement is here.

New Import Tariff (UK Brexit)

The Transition Period ends 31st December 2020

The UK is today consulting on its new Import Tariff that will apply to all imports, except those under a trade deal, from 1st January 2021.

This Blog does not focus on tariffs.

Note: special arrangements will apply to Northern Ireland.

The consultation document is here. Consultation is short and ends on 5th March.

The consultation seeks :

* views on a potential series of amendments to the EU’s Common External Tariff to create a bespoke UK tariff- specifically: simplifying and tailoring the UK Global Tariff policy, removing tariffs on goods imported by UK businesses to manufacture other goods, and where the UK has zero or limited domestic production

[so, not a temporary zero tariff on most goods]

* specific feedback on specific products or commodity codes of importance to individuals (individual organisations), including on the corresponding tariff rate

* information on an individual’s (individual organisation’s) interactions with MFN tariffs and the importance of tariffs to a particular sector