UK exits the EU (Ireland Brexit Preparedness)

Ireland has online resources to help business and households prepare for Brexit.

The Department of Finance here has resources, including the EU Brexit Preparedness Notices.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade here has resources.

Enterprise Ireland here has resources.

The Bank of Ireland here has resources, these include links to the Brexit resources produced and compiled by others.

Waste Crime (UK – E&W)

DEFRA is conducting a consultation on proposals to tackle crime and poor performance in the waste sector, and introduce a new fixed penalty for the householder waste duty of care. The consultation closes on 26th March 2018, and applies to England and Wales. The consultation document is here.

One part of this consultation proposes changes to the waste exemption regime (set out in Schedule 3 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 (as amended)).

Waste exemptions are exemptions from the need for an environmental permit for waste recovery and disposal operations. Since exemptions were first introduced in 1994, the government has made extensive use of them (within the EU rules) to provide a light-touch form of regulation for small-scale, low risk waste management activities.

In England and Wales, there are 59 types of exempt waste operations available for the use (U), treatment (T), storage (S) and disposal (D) of waste. Similar provisions exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland (but note the exact exemptions are different).

Apart from exemption T11 for the treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), it is free to register one or more exemptions at a site. The registration is valid for three years and then automatically expires, and can be re-registered or “renewed” for another three years. Each exemption has conditions setting out the types and quantities of waste that can be managed. The conditions also set out what treatments can be carried out, how the waste must be stored, and which environmental protection measures must be complied with.

Registering an exemption is not the same as applying for and receiving an environmental permit. A permit amounts to “permission” from the regulators to carry a set of particular activities. In contrast, by registering an exemption, the establishment or undertaking is self- certifying that they have read and understood the conditions of the exempt activity and will comply with them. At the point of registration, the regulators do not assess whether the criteria defined in the exemption are met.

The proposals set out for consultation focus on four areas: (pages 40 to 67 of the consultant document)

1. Prohibiting the use of waste exemptions in specified circumstances;

2. Making changes to the ten waste exemptions identified as being associated with the greatest levels of non-compliance and illegality;

3. Requiring additional information to support effective regulation of the regime;

4. Improving the process to register or continue an exemption.

Use the resources set out here to respond to this consultation.

Subscribers (England and Wales) to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists will receive an Email Alert when the EPR changes.

Personal Protective Equipment (EU)

Existing PPE Directive 89/686/EEC covers the manufacture and marketing of personal protective equipment. It defines legal obligations to ensure that PPE on the European market provides the highest level of protection against hazards. The CE marking affixed to PPE provides evidence of this protection. Manufacturers or their authorised representative in the EU comply with the technical requirements directly or with European Harmonised Standards. The latter provides a presumption of conformity to the essential health and safety requirements.

Applicable 21 April 2018, Directive 89/686/EEC is repealed by the new Regulation (EU) 2016/425 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on personal protective equipment – here.

The new PPE Regulation is aligned to the EU’s New Legislative Framework policy. In addition, it slightly modifies the scope (enlarged to include PPE designed and manufactured for private use to protect against heat) and the risk categorisation of products. It also clarifies the documentary obligations of economic operators.

As a European Regulation (not a Directive) it is directly binding on a Member State (and on operators marketing to a Member State) without enactment of national law (although national law may be additionally enacted).

Brexit : PPE is covered by the EU Notice on Industrial Goods here. (I have posted a number of times with links to EU Notices)

Brexit in the UK, this new EU PPE Regulation applies from 21 April 2018, after Brexit it applies via the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. NB: the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is not yet enacted.

Subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists will be sent an Email Alert of the addition of this new EU Regulation to the PPE Register and Checklist component in their websystems.

General Data Protection Regulation (EU)

The General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679) is here. Article 5 sets out the principles.

This GDPR applies from 25th May 2018 and overrides national law (although in some instances new national law may additionally be brought in).

[Brexit : the GDPR applies in the UK from 25th May 2018 – after Brexit, the GDPR will apply in the UK via the EU (Withdrawal) Bill – see separate Blog post – the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is not yet enacted]

[UK : separately (and not to be confused) a new UK Data Protection Bill is almost enacted – see Explanatory Notes here]

The general data protection regulation (GDPR) is part of the EU data protection reform package.

Features

• a single set of EU-wide rules — it repeals the pre-existing European Directive 95/46/EC;

• a data protection officer, responsible for data protection, must be designated by public authorities and by businesses which process data on a large scale;

• one-stop-shop — businesses will deal with one single supervisory authority (in the EU country in which they are mainly based);

• EU rules for non-EU companies — companies based outside the EU must apply the same rules when offering services or goods, or monitoring the behaviour of individuals, within the EU;

• privacy-friendly techniques must be used, such as pseudonymisation (when identifying fields within a data record are replaced by one or more artificial identifiers) and encryption (when data is coded in such a way that only authorised parties can read it);

• removal of notifications — the new data protection rules will scrap most notification obligations and the costs associated with these, one of the aims of the data protection regulation is to remove obstacles to free flow of personal data within the EU;

• impact assessments — businesses must carry out impact assessments when data processing may result in a high risk for the rights and freedoms of individuals;

• record-keeping — SMEs are not required to keep records of processing activities, unless the processing is regular or likely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of the person whose data is being processed.

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The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has a useful updated guide in English here.

ICO guidance for small organisations is here.

CJEU ruling on worker rest periods (EU)

On the 9th November (today), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled on the REQUEST for a preliminary ruling submitted by the Portuguese Tribunal da Relação do Porto (Court of Appeal, Oporto) on whether the minimum uninterrupted weekly rest period of 24 hours to which a worker is entitled (in the European Working Time Directive) must be provided no later than the day following a period of six consecutive working days.

The European Directive on the organisation of working time (Directive 2003/88/EC as amended) provides that every worker is entitled, per each seven-day period, to a minimum uninterrupted rest period of 24 hours plus 11 hours’ daily rest. An earlier Directive 93/104/EC is also relevant, and the request raised the matter of the effect of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which had been dealt with by the earlier June Opinion of the Advocate General. 

By today’s judgment, the Court finds that EU law does not require the minimum uninterrupted weekly rest period to be provided no later than the day following a period of six consecutive working days, but requires it to be provided within each seven-day period. See the list of documents here

The earlier June 2017 Advocate General Opinion had found – Article 5 of Council Directive 93/104/EC of 23 November 1993 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time, Article 5 of Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time and Article 31 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union must be interpreted not as requiring the weekly rest period to be granted at the latest on the seventh day following six consecutive working days, but as requiring such a period to be granted within each seven-day period.

The Opinion is here

CJEU ruling on breastfeeding mothers risk assessment (EU)

On 19th October the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on a REQUEST for a preliminary ruling under European Union treaty law made by the Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Galicia (High Court of Justice of Galicia, Spain).

This REQUEST asked for clarification on the matter of the employer’s risk assessment of breast feeding mothers in the workplace.

The court found :

(1) The European Equal Opportunites & Equal Treatment Directive 2006/54/EC must be interpreted as applying to a situation (such as that at issue in the main Spanish court proceedings), in which a breastfeeding worker challenges, before a court or other competent authority of the Member State concerned, the risk assessment of her work – in so far as she claims that the assessment was not conducted in accordance with Europan Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding.

(2) On a proper construction of European Directive 2006/54 (in a situation such as that at issue in the Spanish court proceedings), it is for the worker in question to provide evidence capable of suggesting that the risk assessment of her work had not been conducted in accordance with the requirements of Article 4(1) of Directive 92/85 and from which it can therefore be presumed that there was direct discrimination on grounds of sex within the meaning of Directive 2006/54 (in the case). It would then be for the defendant to prove that that risk assessment had been conducted in accordance with the requirements of that provision (risk assessment of breast feeding mothers) and that there had, therefore, been no breach of the principle of non-discrimination.

The CJEU judgment is here

The UK HSE guidance is as yet unchanged. The UK HSE guidance states a specific risk assessment is not required when an employer is notified a worker is a new or expectant mother. This guidance is here.

NB: ACAS is finalising new guidance on preventing pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work. UPDATE : this guidance is here.

The Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation UK websystems contain Law, ACOPs, HSGs and some other health and safety relevant guidance. They do not contain ACAS documents, please refer to legal specialists in Employment Law for further guidance.

Glyphosate (UK) Regulatory Query

UPDATE (November 2017) : The European Commission has approved glyphosate for a further five years. This approval will be adopted before 15th December 2017 (when the current approval runs out).

The details are here.

UPDATE (June 2016) : The European Commission has adopted an eighteen month extension of its current approval. 

Press Release is here.

The legal position (set out below) in the UK is unchanged. Please note : some Local Authorities may trial alternatives for use in parks and gardens (eg Bristol).

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Glyophosate is regulated in the UK as a pesticide. Under European Union (EU) rules, pesticides are only approved for use if a scientific assessment has identified no unacceptable risks to people or the environment. The EU current approval of glyphosate expires on 31st December 2015.

The matter of health risks being created by use of glyphosate was raised in a recent assessment by the World Health Organisation’s latest review of cancer risks of this chemical (a main ingredient of the popular herbicide Roundup).

UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) responded on 29th April 2015 as follows to a Freedom of Request:

“As part of the review of glyphosate, the regulatory authority responsible for pesticides in Germany (BfR) has assessed the relevant data to see if EU approval can continue from 2016. BfR’s assessment has been circulated to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and to all EU Member States for critical review. EFSA published the assessment on its website in March 2014 for a two month public consultation and has co-ordinated a peer review, conducted in February 2015. This involved all Member States’ pesticides regulatory authorities, European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, and it’s expert advisors.

EFSA is in the process of drawing up its findings in a formal conclusion, which will be sent to the Commission for consideration. In light of this conclusion, a decision will be taken either to renew the approval of glyphosate or not. If approval is renewed, products which contain the active substance will be separately re-assessed at Member State level, to confirm that they too continue to meet the required standards of safety.

If approval is not renewed, glyphosate products will be withdrawn from the market.

In the work carried out so far under the EU review, glyphosate has been judged not to show an ability to cause cancer in humans. In addition, predicted exposures from authorised uses of glyphosate were found to be within acceptable limits for all aspects of human health.”

The full text is here.