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.

EU REACH and UK REACH (UK from 1st Jan)

Like CLP (see my blog post on CLP), the key principles of the European Union (EU) REACH Regulation are retained. This document is included (separated into four line entries) in our Brexit Consolidated Law project (the coloured list in Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists).

From 1 January 2021, UK REACH and EU REACH will operate independently from each other. Companies that are supplying and purchasing substances, mixtures or articles to and from the EU/EEA/Northern Ireland and Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) will need to ensure that the relevant duties are met under both systems.

EU REACH will apply to Northern Ireland from 1st Jan, while UK REACH will regulate the access of substances to the GB market.

GB- based Businesses holding EU REACH Registrations (in ECHA)

The EU REACH registration will be (and must be) legally recognised (grandfathered) in the UK REACH system after 31st Dec, but information will be supplied to the HSE (the UK REACH regulator) via an account (the holder sets up) on the new UK REACH IT system.

* initial information on the existing EU REACH registration within 120 days of 31st Dec.

* technical information (required under UK REACH) within 300 days plus either 2, 4 or 6 years of 31st Dec. The deadline depends on the tonnage and/or hazard profile of substances.

Grandfathering will be available (and will be required) for all registrations (including intermediates) held by GB-based entities, including importers and Only Representatives (ORs) based in Britain, and to sole, lead or joint registrants.

All GB-based registrations that exist on 31st Dec, and all registrations held by GB entities at any point since 29 March 2017 will be grandfathered. This means that if a GB registration was transferred to an EU/EEA/NI-based entity in the run-up to 31st Dec, it will still be grandfathered into UK REACH.

Grandfathering will not apply to registrations held by entities established outside of Britain, regardless of whether they are part of a group of companies which also has a presence in Britain. Those registrations will not be grandfathered, unless they have been transferred to a GB entity before 31st Dec.

Before transferring any registrations, the HSE asks you to consider how this would affect your operations in the EU/EEA and Northern Ireland, and your ability to access the EU/EEA and NI markets in future.

The HSE says any ECHA decisions relevant to a registration(s) will remain valid.

Access to the technical information used for EU REACH registration may require renegotiating commercial contracts/letters of access which were originally put in place for EU REACH under a Substance Information Exchange Forum (SIEF).

UK REACH will not require GB companies to form a Substance Information Exchange Forum (SIEF) to submit registration data, including under the grandfathering provisions. UK REACH will include a similar Article 26 substance inquiry system to EU REACH to facilitate the principle of ‘one substance, one registration’ which will be retained under UK REACH.

This link gives access to HSE details of the information that must be submitted (scroll down)

Separate Rules apply for GB- based businesses that are downstream users and distributors if they continue to be supplied from the EU/EEA – read here.

GB- based businesses importing non EU/EEA substances Businesses that act only as importers of substances will not be able to appoint an Only Representative (OR) under EU REACH (only a manufacturer, formulator or producer of articles can do so). This means that, as a GB-based importer, you will not have the option to transfer your EU REACH registrations to an EU-based entity OR to continue selling into the EU/EEA or Northern Ireland.

To sell chemicals to EU/EEA or NI customers you should:

* help your EU/EEA and NI-based customers to register with ECHA as importers

or

* work with the non-EU/EEA or NI-based manufacturer who supplies you to encourage them to appoint an OR based in Northern Ireland or an EU/EEA country, who can register the substance with ECHA. The HSE advises you will need to consider in each case whether this registration will be sufficient to allow you to export the substance into the EU/EEA or Northern Ireland.

For mixtures to be placed on the EU/EEA or NI markets you should ensure that each substance at one-tonne or over is registered with ECHA in accordance with EU REACH directly by someone EU-based in your supply chain (again see above re OR).

GB- based Businesses holding EU REACH Authorisations (in ECHA)

Again, these will be grandfathered. The deadline here is 60 days from 31st Dec for information supply to HSE –

* the information included in the application for the authorisation

* any other information provided to ECHA by the applicant for the authorisation which was material to the formation of ECHA’s opinion

* any information required to be submitted or recorded before 31st Dec under any condition under which the authorisation is granted.

Separate Rules apply for GB- based businesses that are downstream users and distributors if they continue to be supplied by anyone with an EU REACH authorisation – read here.

Link to HSE information for GB- based Businesses bringing to GB NI- registered goods under EU REACH (qualifying Northern Ireland goods – QNIGs) – here.

Link to HSE information for NI- based businesses trading QNIGs – here.

Note : see above re GB holders of EU REACH registrations.

LINK to HSE for further scenarios.

EU CLP and GB CLP (UK from 1st Jan)

I mentioned GB CLP yesterday in my blog about publication of the new rules for Northern Ireland.

From 1 January 2021, the European Union (EU) CLP Regulation will be replaced in Britain by retained EU law – the GB CLP Regulation. The GB CLP Regulation will be added to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists, and is included in our Brexit Consolidated Law project (the coloured list).

Businesses based in Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) that place chemicals (substances and mixtures) on the GB market will comply with the GB CLP Regulation (not the EU CLP Regulation) from 1st January.

GB CLP Agency

GB-based businesses supplying the GB market with chemicals (substances and mixtures) will deal with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as the GB CLP Agency instead of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

GB Notification

GB-based businesses will notify the GB CLP Agency (not ECHA) of the classification and labelling of the substances they place on the GB market, whether on their own or in mixtures, where they meet the criteria for notification (please check that notification is not required if the substance is subject to UK REACH registration).

GB mandatory classification and labelling (GB MCL)

GB-based businesses will classify and label their substances, where required, in accordance with GB MCL and with the entries in the GB MCL list hosted and managed by the GB CLP Agency.

Downstream users and distributors supplied from the EU/ European Economic Area (EEA)

GB-based downstream users or distributors supplied from the EU/EEA will be importers after 31st December if these supply arrangements continue. 

Exporting to the EU/EEA

Responsibility for the classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals exported to the EU/EEA from Britain will rest with the EU/EEA-based importer.

Unchanged from 1st Jan 2021 –

The main duties on GB-based businesses i.e. manufacturers, importers, downstream users and distributors (“suppliers”) to classify, label and package the chemicals (substances and mixtures) they place on the market under the GB CLP Regulation will stay the same.

Classification

From January 2021, GB-based manufacturers, importers and downstream users will still classify substances and mixtures) i.e. identify any hazardous properties, before they place them on the GB market.

Labelling

Manufacturers, importers, downstream users and distributors based in Britain will still label substances and mixtures to reflect their hazard classification before they place them on the GB market.

There are no changes to requirements for when GB CLP Regulation labelling appears alongside those for transport (dangerous good transport).

Packaging

There are no changes to packaging requirements. Substances and mixtures placed on the GB market must still be safely and securely packaged. Requirements for child resistant closures and tactile warning devices will remain in place.

Responsibility to identify health, environmental and physical hazards 

All suppliers based in Britain will continue to be responsible for identifying, examining and evaluating available scientific and information on substances and mixtures relating to possible physical, health or environmental hazardous properties of chemicals. This is to ensure all the requirements of classification, labelling and packaging are fulfilled.

Testing arrangements 

Testing arrangements for chemicals, including a ban on testing on humans or primates for the purposes of the GB CLP Regulation, will still apply.

Relationship with UN GHS

The GB CLP Regulation, as retained EU law, will continue to adopt changes to the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of classification and labelling of chemicals (UN GHS) in a similar way to the EU CLP Regulation.

Northern Ireland- based Businesses

The EU CLP Regulation will apply in Northern Ireland. This will mean that:

* chemicals (substances or mixtures) placed on the market in Northern Ireland will comply with the EU CLP Regulation (not the GB CLP Regulation)

* Northern Ireland- based businesses will notify ECHA (not the HSE) of the hazard classification and labelling of the substances they place on the NI market, for inclusion in the EU Classification and Labelling Inventory, whether on their own or in mixtures, where they meet the criteria for notification (notification is not required if the substance is subject to EU REACH registration)

* Northern Ireland-based downstream users and distributors who are currently supplied by businesses in the EU/EEA will not face any new EU CLP Regulation requirements if these supply arrangements continue (GB businesses will be importers – see above)

Responsibility for the classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals traded from Britain to Northern Ireland will rest with the Northern Ireland based business who places the chemical on the Northern Ireland market even if it is currently a downstream user or distributor.

NI- based businesses placing goods on the GB market must study the new Rules for Northern Ireland published yesterday. Please note the relevant clauses of the Internal Market Bill are dropped (and the HSE Guidance is not yet updated).

Link to HSE.

Office for Product Safety and Standards (UK from 1st Jan)

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has published guidance for businesses in Great Britain (GB) and separately in Northern Ireland (NI).

The guidance is issued separately (for GB and NI) – here – for the following –

(1) General Product Safety

(2) ATEX

(3) Cosmetics

(4) Electrics and electronics

(5) Gas appliances

(6) Lifts

(7) Machinery

(8) Metrology (weights and measures)

(9) Outdoor equipment

(10) Pressure equipment

(11) Recreational craft

(13) Toys

Guidance (Brexit) in these areas was issued in earlier years, but these documents are a fresh issue, and will be added imminently to the Brexit Guidance List in subscribers’ EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists online.

The Implementation or Transition Period officially ends at 11pm on 31 December 2020; therefore references to 1 January 2021 should be read as meaning 11pm on 31st December 2020.

Great Britain

The Product Safety and Metrology etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, and other Brexit Law, that are being consolidated into domestic law – the Brexit Consolidated Law List in subscribers’ EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists) are also amended by the Product Safety and Metrology etc. (Amendment etc.) (UK(NI) Indication) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 – which are not yet approved by Parliament.

This (as yet not approved amendment) provides for a 24 month transition period for importer labelling (for goods from the EEA), and the UKCA marking. It also amends the definition of “authorised representative” as well as introduces an end (in 12 months from the end of the Transition Period) to the recognition of goods meeting EU requirements, as well as introduces provisions for qualifying Northern Ireland goods.

Northern Ireland

Only a few of these guides are yet published.

DEFRA SPS standards (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

Lord Gardiner of Kimble made the following statements concerning the SPS standards regime that will operate from 1st Jan 2021 – (these statements made in the final reading of the Agriculture Bill at the House of Lords)

[note: goods placed on the NI market will need to comply with EU law where it’s listed in the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol]

(1) The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland will apply to imports under new free trade agreements. For example, regulated food products will need to pass the FSA’s risk analysis process before being placed on the local market. The FSA has doubled the number of risk assessors since 2017. It can draw on the expertise of 100 scientific experts and support staff and has recruited 35 additional members to its advisory committees. It has also taken wider consumer interest into account, such as the impact on the environment, animal welfare and food security, drawing on appropriate expertise and stakeholders to do so. The expertise of other government departments and agencies will be brought to bear in the risk assessment process, as required, including the Animal and Plant Health Agency and Defra officials.

(2) Equivalence will be considered by experts in the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the Food Standards Agency. The expert advice and evidence on regulated products will then be presented to Ministers and devolved Administrations for a decision on whether these products should be placed on the local market. Secondary legislation would need to be laid before Parliament to authorise new regulated products to be placed on the market.

(3) The functions of audit and inspection, currently carried out by the European Commission, will be repatriated to ensure that trading partners continue to meet local import conditions for food and feed safety, animal and plant health and animal welfare. This will include officials auditing the food production systems and rules of other countries and carrying out inspection visits to facilities in the countries themselves. Verification that requirements are being carried out as stipulated will be conducted through checks at the border. Audits will ensure that trading partners have the necessary infrastructure and regulation in place to export safe food and animal products, which either meet or exceed local import conditions, and will then ensure that these standards are maintained.

(4) The UK Government will take a science-based approach to SPS measures and take their own sovereign decisions on standards and regulations, in line with the principles of the WTO SPS agreement and other relevant internationally recognised guidance.

[Information on the WTO SPS agreement is here – note, it does not of itself set out SPS standards]

(5) Food labelling rules apply to all food intended for supply to final consumers or to caterers. Imported food needs to be fully compliant before it is placed on the local market. The name and address of the local food business, or the importer, will be required on the label from 1st Jan 2021. There are no exceptions to food labelling rules for imported food.

(6) Re Northern Ireland. The withdrawal agreement joint committee met again on 16 July and the Northern Ireland Executive representative again attended, in line with the New Decade, New Approach deal. They exchanged updates on implementation of the protocol and discussed preparatory work for future decisions.

(7) Re quotas that form part of the commitments within the UK goods schedule, which has been lodged at the WTO. The UK has already agreed a common approach with the EU to apportion EU 28 tariff-rate quotas between the UK and EU 27 in order to ensure existing trade flows are maintained. Legislation will be presented by the Treasury later this year under the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018 to establish new tariff quotas in UK law.

(8) Re Use of gene editing. Until 2018, there was uncertainty within the EU as to whether the living products of gene editing technology should be subject to the same regulatory framework as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), because the legal definition of a GMO was open to interpretation.

In 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that gene edited products must be treated in the same way as GMOs, even if the changes to their genetic material could have been produced by traditional methods, such as crossing varieties of the same species and selecting only the improved individuals.

The UK Government is committed to taking a more scientific approach to regulation.

Gene-edited changes to genetic material that would not arise naturally or from traditional breeding methods will still need to be regulated as genetically modified organisms. The UK Government will consult on this issue. Defra is working on the details so that a consultation can be launched in the autumn.

Further details are set out in the Hansard record – here.

EU-UK Readiness post 1st Jan 2021 (EU)

On 14th July, the European Commission published a Guidance Note “Withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU Rules in the field of Customs, including preferential origin”.

This document (35 pages) is here.

The Guidance Note summary advice to Stakeholders –

–  consider whether they need to obtain an EORI number from an EU Member State;

–  consult their competent customs authority for further advice on their individual situation; and

–  adapt input and supply chains to take account that UK input will be non-originating for the purposes of tariff preferences with third countries.

Some points (this is not a full list, please read the document) –

(1) From 1st Jan 2021, UK EORI numbers will cease to be valid in the EU and will be invalidated in the relevant IT system EOS/EORI, including those UK EORI numbers linked to the ongoing operations covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

Customs authorities of EU Member States should accept requests before 1st Jan 2021 and assign to them EORI numbers with the 1st Jan 2021 or thereafter as the “start day of EORI number”, according to the requests of the persons concerned.

(2) Authorisations granted by UK customs authorities are not valid in the EU from 1st Jan 2021. From 1st Jan 2021, the UK customs authorities are not an EU competent customs authority.

The UK is a Contracting Party to the Convention on a Common Transit Procedure (CTC), so from 1st Jan 2021 authorisations granted by the UK for transit simplifications are not valid in the EU Customs Decisions system, but need to be treated in the UK’s national system as a Contracting Party to the CTC. Where then the UK communicates to the Member States which of those authorisations continue to be valid within the framework of the CTC, the Member States are to accept those authorisations as valid.

(3) Authorisations granted to economic operators with UK EORI numbers are not valid in the EU from 1st Jan 2021, unless the economic operator has an establishment in the EU, has the possibility to obtain an EU EORI and to apply for an amendment of the authorisation to include the new EU EORI instead of the UK EORI number. Where an authorisation cannot be amended by replacing the UK EORI by an EU EORI, the economic operator should apply for a new authorisation with his new EU EORI.

(4) UK content (material or processing operations) is “non-originating” under EU preferential trade arrangements for the determination of the preferential origin of goods incorporating that content.

Note the specific different arrangements that apply in Northern Ireland from 1st Jan 2021.

EU-UK Readiness post 1st Jan 2021 (UK 1st Jan 2021)

Yesterday, 13 July, the UK published its Border Operating Model (206 page Policy Paper) that will apply from 1st Jan 2021 for GB trade with the EU – here.

In addition, HMRC information for traders importing or exporting goods between Britain (GB) and the EU after 1st Jan 2021 is published – here.

HMRC also has guidance on declaring goods brought into GB from the EU after 1st Jan 2021 (update from 10 July) – here.

Specific instructions –

(1) Plants and plant products (update from 10 June) – here

(2) Animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin (update from 10 June) – here

In addition, the Forestry Commission’s guidance on importing wood, wood products or bark from non-EU countries is updated – here.

Protocols for GB trade with NI, and NI trade with the EU (including Ireland) will be published later this month (the UK government said yesterday 13 July).

I Blog posted a few days ago on EU-UK Readiness on the EU side.

Rail Transport (UK from 1st January 2021)

Rules change from 1st January 2021 (as a result of Brexit).

The UK Department for Transport issued on 1st July, text applicable to Rail Transport from 1st January 2021. This text is here.

The UK text also refers the reader to the already existing European Commission Notice, updated 28 April, here.

Note the following (this is not an exhaustive list, please read the text behind the links).

Note the deadlines – 1st January 2021 and 1st January 2022. Note the different rules in Northern Ireland.

(1) EU-based operators must apply to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) for documentation to run services in Britain – the necessary documentation is required by 31 January 2022.

For Northern Ireland, the UK text says “non-UK operators are currently not subject to a time-limited period”. This flows from the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

(2) The UK text says “It is likely that certificates and licences issued in the UK will not be valid in the EU from 1 January 2021”.

If this is the case, operators of cross-border services will be subject to the recognition implications set out in both UK and EU rules.

(3) The UK will continue to recognise certain EU-issued documents until 31 January 2022 for services in Britain. These are operator licences, safety certificates, and train driving licences.

For Northern Ireland, the UK text says “The 2-year time limit from 31 January 2020 on recognition of these categories of EU-issued documents does not currently apply to Northern Ireland.” Again, this flows from the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

Any future arrangements with France are expected to deal with the Channel Tunnel itself but not with the routes into continental Europe (beyond Calais-Fréthun). UK operators and train drivers will need to obtain additional licences and safety certificates to operate or work in the EU.

(4) The UK’s formal participation in the EU Agency for Railways (ERA) ended on 31 January 2020 and the UK is not seeking membership of ERA. The UK text says “The UK intends to put in place appropriate arrangements for regulatory co-operation with ERA where this is necessary to secure the safety of international rail services.”

(5) After 31 January 2022, operators with an EU operating licence will need to hold an ORR-issued licence to operate in Britain. Establishment in the UK is not necessary, but the UK ORR licence will need to have been applied for and obtained by 31 January 2022 to continue operating after that date.

Operators holding an ORR-issued licence that run domestic services in the EU will need to re-apply for an operator licence in an EU member state, consulting the relevant guidance and following the requirements from the EU or the relevant member state. The licence must be in place by 1 January 2021.

This is also the case for UK-based operators seeking to run new domestic services in an EU member state.

Operators of cross-border services between the UK and the EU holding an ORR-issued licence will need to re-apply for an operator licence in an EU member state. The licence must be in place by 1 January 2021.

(6) ORR-issued Part A and Part B safety certificates will be valid for UK-based domestic operators operating in Britain until their normal expiry.

EU established operators running a domestic-only service in Britain, with a Part A safety certificate issued in the EU before 31 January 2020, will be able to use these certificates until 31 January 2022 or until they expire – whichever is earlier.

Proposed changes to UK regulations will allow EU established operators running a domestic-only service in Britain with a Part A safety certificate issued in the EU before 31 January 2022 to run services in Britain until 31 January 2022. These changes are to be made in the Railways (Miscellaneous Amendments, Revocations and Transitional Provisions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. Subject to Parliamentary process, it is expected they will come into force on 31 December 2020.

This will also apply to operators running services with a single safety certificate issued under Directive (EU) 2016/798, which will be deemed equivalent to a UK Part A safety certificate during the period between 31 December 2020 (subject to the changes to regulations coming into force) and 31 January 2022.

If trains are operated in Britain on the basis of an EU-issued safety certificate, the relevant safety certification issued by the ORR is required by 31 January 2022 at the latest. An ORR-issued Part B certificate associated with an EU-issued Part A safety certificate or a Single Safety Certificate will expire alongside the parent certificate. An operator obtaining new safety certification will also be required to apply for and obtain a new Part B safety certificate.

Establishment in the UK is not required to obtain relevant safety certification issued by the ORR, but a UK address must be supplied in the application.

For Northern Ireland – the UK text says – “non-UK based operators running a domestic-only service with a Part A safety certificate issued in the EU are not currently subject to a time-limited recognition period.” Again, this flows from the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

Any EU operator seeking to run domestic services in Britain based on an EU-issued Single Safety Certificate, issued under Directive (EU) 2016/798 until 31 January 2022, will also have to obtain a Part B safety certificate from the ORR before it can do so.

UK-based operators running domestic services in the EU who hold an ORR-issued, or Northern Ireland-issued, Part A safety certificate need to obtain an EU safety certificate by 1 January 2021. This also applies to UK-based operators seeking to run new domestic services in an EU country.

Operators established in the UK who operate cross-border services and hold an ORR-issued Part A safety certificate will need to obtain EU safety certification by 1 January 2021.

(7) Entities in charge of maintenance (ECM) that maintain vehicles in the EU on the basis of an ECM certificate issued in the UK by the ORR or an accredited certification body need to apply for and obtain a new ECM certificate from a certification body in an EU country.

Vehicles used in international traffic between the UK and the EU also have the option of obtaining a certificate according to the legal framework of the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF). The validity of ECM certificates issued in the UK by the ORR or an accredited certification body will be unchanged for freight wagons running purely on the UK mainline railway. ECMs that hold a certificate issued in accordance with COTIF can continue using these certificates in the UK for operations involved in international traffic. ECMs may also rely on certificates issued in the EU in accordance with Commission Regulation 445/2011 to maintain freight wagons for use in domestic operations.

Proposed changes to regulations will allow ECMs to rely on certificates issued in the EU in accordance with the new Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/779 to maintain freight wagons for use in domestic operations. These changes are included in the Railways (Miscellaneous Amendments, Revocations and Transitional Provisions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. Subject to Parliamentary process, it is expected they will come into force on 31 December 2020.

(8) Drivers working on services in Britain, including cross-border services, and using licences and certificates issued in the EU up to the 31 January 2020, are able to drive trains on the basis of those licences until 31 January 2022 or until they expire – whichever is earlier.

Proposed changes to regulations will allow train drivers working on services in Britain, including cross-border services, and using licences and certificates issued in the EU up to the 31 January 2022, to use this documentation until the 31 January 2022. These changes are included in the Railways (Miscellaneous Amendments, Revocations and Transitional Provisions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. Subject to Parliamentary process, it is expected they will come into force on 31 December 2020.

From 31 January 2022, train drivers working in Britain will need to have obtained a UK train driving licence from the ORR to continue operating. The validity of train driving certificates is unaffected. However, operators must ensure that certificates held by newly re-licensed drivers (and their registers of those certificates) refer to the correct licence.

This means that, UK train driving licences are required by 31 January 2022.

Train drivers operating international services or driving domestic services in an EU member state on the basis of an ORR-issued train driving licence will need to re-apply for a train driving licence in an EU country. The new licence will need to be in place by 1 January 2021. Train drivers should apply for and obtain this as soon as possible, where they have not already done so.

(9) From 1 January 2021, the placing of interoperability constituents on the UK market will be based on a UK conformity assessment process, requiring compliance with applicable UK National Technical Specification Notices (NTSNs).

For Northern Ireland, the UK text says “Further updates may be provided in relation to Northern Ireland due to a review of obligations under the Northern Ireland Protocol.” This is the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

The UK text says “It is currently expected that an interoperability constituent placed on the EU market up to 31 December 2020 with a certificate of conformity from a UK notified body will be able to be used within the EU for the period of validity of that certificate in subsystems or vehicles authorised before 1 January 2021.”

(10) Vehicles first authorised in the UK from 1 January 2021 will need to be authorised in the EU as well before they can be used in the EU. Vehicle authorisations issued in the EU up to 31 December 2020 will remain valid in the UK if the vehicle is already in use here prior to that date.

From 1 January 2021 vehicles first authorised outside the UK will require an additional authorisation before they are first used in the UK. This system will be operated in accordance with the UK’s COTIF international obligations.

Withdrawal Agreement Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol (Northern Ireland)

I posted earlier about the first meeting of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. The first meeting of the Specialised Committee that deals with the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol has also been held. Note, this Specialised Committee will also have a specific advisory group report to it.

The Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol is a particularly tricky aspect of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement that was signed late in 2019. It requires new arrangements to be set up for Northern Ireland. I have posted about this before.

The EU issued (and published) on 30 April a Technical Note on the implementation of the Protocol – here.

At various points, EU Technical Note reminds that from the end of the transition period, the UK has committed to apply in Northern Ireland the provisions of EU law listed in Annex 2 to the Protocol relating to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS), products, and goods requirements.

The altered Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists for Northern Ireland will have these Annex 2 EU Law identified at the head of the Registers. We are working to the 31st December 2020 deadline for these alterations.