Sanitary and Phytosanitary Notification (UK WTO)

The UK is a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The WTO members operate amongst themselves an Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures.

The UK submitted (13 March) information (for circulation to WTO Members) to answer the matter of the ongoing implementation of the United Kingdom’s obligations under this WTO SPS Agreement during the transition period following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, and to set out the UK’s own SPS Regulatory System.

The UK ceased to be a member State of the European Union on 31 January 2020. The UK and the EU agreed a Withdrawal Agreement which provides for a time-limited transition period until 1 January 2021 during which European Union law, as implemented through the Withdrawal Agreement, will continue to apply to and in the United Kingdom.

This means that the European Union SPS regime continues to apply in the United Kingdom during the transition period and, following that, the United Kingdom will apply its own SPS regime.

The United Kingdom Parliament legislated to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 by means of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The 2018 Act preserves, and incorporates into domestic law, those elements of European Union law which will apply in the United Kingdom at the end of the transition period.

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 in turn implements the Withdrawal Agreement (which provides for the transition period) including by amending the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to reflect the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.

The UK SPS Regulatory System is set out in the Notice – here

The UK Government is responsible for matters pertaining to the SPS Agreement and international trade. However, powers to implement, regulate and assure food safety, animal and plant health including matters relating to import and export, are devolved by the UK Parliament to the respective administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (collectively referred to as the Devolved Administrations).

Explosives Precursors from 1 Jan (UK Brexit)

The UK has not confirmed that it’s explosives precursors regulation system will continue in its current form after 1 January 2021. No notice is yet issued.

The matter is presently addressed (for the EU27) by a 98/2013 EU Marketing and Use Regulation, that will be replaced on 1st February 2021 by a 2019/1148 EU Explosives Precursors Regulation.

In the UK, this 2013 EU Regulation is retained as Retained EU Law, and a 2019 enacted Brexit EU Exit instrument makes the Retained EU document operate in the UK (see the Brexit Consolidated Law List in Subscribers systems). There is also domestic law.

The current UK explosive precursors regulation system is explained (2018) here.

The 2019 EU Regulation tightens controls (for the EU27 from 1st Feb 2021) on “explosives precursors”—chemical substances that have a legitimate purpose but can also can be used in home-made explosives—to keep pace with the evolving security threat.

The changes will further restrict access to explosives precursors and clarify the rights and obligations of those involved in the supply chain. It will distinguish between ordinary members of the public, who would require a licence to purchase restricted explosives precursors above a specified concentration limit, “professional users” who need the substances for their own trade, business or profession, and “economic operators” who trade in them. Professional users will not require a licence but will have to explain the purpose for which restricted explosives precursors were to be used. This information will then be available to EU27 national law enforcement and inspection authorities.

Until a UK notice is issued on the matter, subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists – UK systems – that have explosives precursors included in their systems – will have the 2013 EU Regulation (repealed in EU27 on 1 Feb 2021) in the Retained EU Law section of the Registers. The 2019 EU Regulation (applicable in the EU27) will appear below Guidance, with other supplied EU Law (applicable in EU27). They will also have the domestic law.

Persistent Organic Pollutants from 1st Jan (UK Brexit)

The UK has confirmed that it’s persistent organic pollutants (POPs) regulation system will continue in its current form after 1 January 2021.

The matter is presently addressed (for the EU27) by a 2019/1021 recast EU POPs Regulation that came into force in 2019. In the UK, this 2019 EU Regulation is retained as Retained EU Law, and a 2019 enacted Brexit EU Exit instrument makes the Retained EU document operate in the UK (see the Brexit Consolidated Law List in Subscribers systems).

The UK confirmation is here.

The UK notice confirms all existing obligation and protections will continue because the UK is a signatory to both the Stockholm Convention and the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution. These Conventions are UNECE Conventions. The UK did not leave the UNECE (UN Economic Commission for Europe).

There is no change to the UK competent authorities.

Future updates will reflect Stockholm Convention decisions and agreed scientific and technical progress, and not necessarily changes to the EU POPs Regulation if it diverges.

Accordingly, subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists – UK systems – will have both conventions added, where POPs are included in their UK systems. This is in addition to the necessary Retained EU Law.

The list of restricted, banned and monitored substances, with the exemptions, set out in the annexes to the current EU POPs Regulation will be amended this year (2020) to reflect decisions made at the last Stockholm Convention conference.

The Environment Agency is accordingly addressing changes pertinent to Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). The EA document is here.

These changes can be expected in amendments to existing domestic law.

The UK notice confirms identification of potential new POPs substances, with the exception of pesticides, will be managed initially through the UK chemicals regulatory regime that will replace EU REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) in the UK.

The UK notice confirms if all the characteristics of a POP emerge from the evidence gathering, the UK will develop a dossier for the Stockholm Convention’s POP Review Committee to assess.

Now that the UK has left the EU, this UK POPs notice confirms further changes to UK regulation of POPs will result from the review processes set up under UNECE Conventions.

Environment Bill (England & UK, Brexit)

Exit day is tomorrow, the transition period will last until 31st December.

The Environment Bill (from the previous session) is being brought back today and given its First Reading in the UK Parliament.

I Blog posted already about the earlier Environment Bill (various sections). When the Bill is published I will reprise those areas that are changed, and Blog post as well on the further sections I had not covered.

To remind – the Environment Bill is an important Bill setting up the Office for Environmental Protection (England) and making further changes to UK REACH to enable it to function from 1st Jan 2021, and additionally setting out other measures (England, and some provisions for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).

The government announcement last night signals :

(1) A ban on the export of plastic waste (which was in the Conservative manifesto), additional to the waste provisions in the previous Bill. Note, the waste provisions as signalled do not align with the 2019 EU Single-Use Plastics Directive.

(2) A bi-annual review of international developments in environmental law that it says will inform domestic law making.

Please look out for further Blog posts on the matter, when the Bill is published.

EU Law in UK 2021 (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st January (end of this month)

Implementation period completion day is 31st December (this is the end of the transition period)

The Chancellor speaking to the Financial Times, confirms there will be no dynamic alignment with EU Law after 2020.

I am not yet clear which laws will diverge, but please note the Brexit laws allow divergence, for example the Brexit Agriculture Bill provides for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to create their own marketing standards (Scotland will need to enact its own Brexit Agriculture Bill).

The EU Exit regulations (statutory instruments) we (Cardinal Environment) are consolidating into domestic law only deal with the pre-Brexit period to end Dec 2020.

It is the FT front page today (Saturday 18th January) and the lead on BBC online.

EU Law per se will not apply anyway. Note, there may be some long tail implementation left over from pre-Brexit that will be implemented.

We (Cardinal Environment) are already consolidating the EU Exit regulations into domestic law, and creating the Retained EU Law (EU Regulations, not Directives, that are adopted). Progress in this project can be seen by clicking the Brexit Consolidated Law List on the top right hand side of EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists homepages (both ENV and OHS).

We are working to the deadline of 31st December 2020 for completion of this project.

In addition, EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists will see the home page choice of ENV or OHS have additional Post-Brexit choices, and the existing links relabelled Pre-Brexit.

The Post-Brexit links will direct to shadow Registers & Checklists that will run from the end of Q1 to hit the end Dec 2020 deadline, for switch over to Post-Brexit.

Post-Brexit shadow Registers & Checklists running in 2020 will have Brexit Consolidated Law loaded (accessibility will stay from the main Brexit Consolidated Law list), and will display a changed Register layout.

Post-Brexit EHS Legislation Registers layout – EU Law will be moved from the top to below Guidance. We will still supply up to date EU Law to UK customers, but this is where it will be found. Retained EU Law will be displayed at the top of the Register.

EU Law in UK 2020 (UK Brexit)

UPDATE (24th Jan) : UK Policy is NOT to implement beyond the Implementation period completion day

Exit day is 31st January (end of this month)

Implementation period completion day is 31st December (this is the end of the transition period)

The Withdrawal Agreement agreed between the UK and the EU in November 2019 will be ratified in the UK and the EU imminently. This will bring about an ordered UK exit from the EU, and initiate a Transition Period.

The Transition Period will operate for 2020. During the Transition Period EU law enacted and in force by 31st December 2020 will be implemented in the UK, even if it has implementation deadlines after 31st December.

UPDATE (24th Jan) : For our purposes, this means the 2018 EU Circular Waste Economy Package will be implemented in the UK. The 2019 EU Single-Use Plastics Directive would not be implemented.

In addition, EU laws already implemented in the UK but with long tail deadlines for e.g. product bans (e.g. menthol cigarettes) that apply after Exit day or after Implementation period completion day, will still apply in the UK.

The envisaged purpose of the Transition Period is for the UK and the EU to agree alternative arrangements for trade in goods, primarily, that will subsist from 1st January 2021.

For our purposes, this means the new UK chemicals regime, the new UK medicines regime, the new UK equipment label (UKCA Mark), and UK issued certificates of all kinds, will need to be in place by end of 2020. Expect unilateral arrangements for EU goods and chemicals etc circulation in the UK for a limited period after 31st December 2020. I Blog posted a few days ago about hops and the later date available for circulation of EU hops in the UK.

There could also be unilateral arrangements on the EU side for limited time-length goods circulation in the EU.

A key issue is acceptance on both sides of certificates issued, and the matter of double testing for chemicals, medicines etc.

Pesticides (EU)

Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 is the governing EU Law on the placing of plant protection products (pesticides and herbicides) on the European market – the PPP Regulation.

This is a useful Q&A document (2015) about the PPP Regulation – here.

A zonal system of authorisation operates in the EU to enable a harmonised and efficient system to operate.

The EU is divided into 3 zones; North, Central and South. EU countries assess applications on behalf of other countries in their zone and sometimes on behalf of all zones.

The PPP Regulation sets out the requirements, procedure and timeframes for authorisation of Plant Protection Products (PPPs).

Applicants, EU countries, the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) can be involved in the process of authorisation.

There are different types of application that can be submitted depending on the intended use of the PPP, the Member State(s) for which the PPP is required and the regulatory status of any existing authorisations.

Authorisations usually are time-limited and therefore come up again for review. The relevant EU body for the whole EU is the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCoPAFF).

In March 2019, the non-renewal of the fungicide active substance chlorothalonil came up for review at SCoPAFF, and the decision was not to renew.

In December 2019, the non-renewal of two organophosphate active substances chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl came up for review at SCoPAFF, and the decision is not to renew (this decision is not yet published).

This means products containing the above active substances may not circulate in the European market, stocks may be used up for a short time, determined by the EU authorisation document that is issued for the active substance.

Brexit : as an EU Regulation, the PPP Regulation is adopted in the UK as Retained EU Law. Enacted Brexit Law (in force from Exit day) makes changes to the PPP Regulation to enable it to stand alone within the UK statute base.

DEFRA has made no announcements re reversing EU bans.