Commercial Driving in the EU (UK Brexit Preparedness)

Today the UK Government published instructions on the actions commercial drivers must take (in the event of No Deal and no bilateral arrangements) in order to drive in the EU27 bloc after Brexit. This information is here.

The contents of any future EU-UK trade deal (or bilateral arrangements) may affect these instructions, so it’s essential to keep watching for updates (the information link in the first paragraph of this Blog post identifies ways to stay updated).

[A] Community licences and ECMT permits

Currently, UK lorry drivers carrying out international journeys must have a standard international operator’s licence along with a community licence for journeys to, from or through the EU and EEA.

Vehicles under 3.5 tonnes (including vans) and drivers operating on own account (carrying their own goods) do not need an international operator’s licence or Driver CPC.

ECMT permits will enable UK operators to drive in the EU and EEA (except Cyprus) if UK issued community licences are not recognised. ECMT permits are also recognised in 15 other countries.

Operators with a Northern Ireland operator’s licence will not be required to obtain an ECMT permit for a journey to the Republic of Ireland. Operators with a Great Britain operator’s licence should apply for an ECMT permit if they plan to drive in the Republic of Ireland from 29 March 2019.

Only limited numbers of ECMT permits will be available. Application will be online for ECMT permits from 26 November to 21 December 2018.

To apply for ECMT permits, a vehicle operator licence online account is required.

[B] Trailer registration (UK Brexit law)

From 28 March 2019, commercial trailers over 750kg and all trailers over 3,500kg must be registered before they can travel through countries that have ratified the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.

This includes countries in the EU, EEA and Europe (listed in the Government Information, see link in the first paragraph of this Blog post).

Trailer registration is not required for trailers that are only used in the UK or only used for journeys between the UK and Ireland.

More details are in the Government Information, see link in the first paragraph of this Blog post).

River Basin Management (Ireland)

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has published the (second) River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021 for Ireland. An earlier RBMP had been published. This second RBMP plans on the basis that Ireland is defined as a single River Basin District – the Ireland RBD (NOT including Northern Ireland). The areas bordering Northern Ireland are included in two other River Basin Districts – the North Western RBD and the Neagh Bann RBD that are run from Northern Ireland (part of the UK, a separate country and currently exiting the EU).

The River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018-2021 is here.

[The Neagh Bann River Basin Management Plan 2015-2021 is here.]

[The North Western River Basin Management Plan 2015-2021 is here.]

RBMPs set out the actions that an EU member state will take to improve water quality and achieve ‘good’ ecological status in water bodies (rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters) by 2027. EU member states are required to produce river basin management plans under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD).

BREXIT : it is not yet clear how River Basin Management planning will occur in the UK going forward. I will issue a separate Blog on this, when there is further information.

Water quality in Ireland has deteriorated over the past two decades. This second RBMP provides a more coordinated framework for improving the quality of waters — to protect public health, the environment, water amenities and to sustain water-intensive industries, including agri-food and tourism, particularly in rural Ireland.

The Irish River Basin District (RBD) covers an area of 70,273km2, with 46 catchment management units — consisting of 583 sub-catchments, with 4,829 water bodies. With regard to protected areas within the District, there are 140 designated bathing waters, 64 shell fish waters, 47 nutrient sensitive areas and 358 special areas of conservation (SACs) with water dependency. These SACs are geographically concentrated along the western seaboard – with a significant overlap between high-status waters and SACs. The RBD has a population of around 4.76 million, with 33% of people living in cities, 29% in towns and 38% in rural areas. The requirement for water and waste-water services reflects these spatial patterns. Nationally, the economy is strongly export-focused, but the sectoral drivers of economic growth across the RBD are diverse – with the agriculture and food sectors being particularly important in rural areas.

Key measures during the first RBMP included the licensing of urban waste-water discharges (with an associated investment in urban waste-water treatment) and the implementation of the Nitrates Action Programme (Good Agricultural Practice Regulations). The urban waste-water licensing made significant progress in terms both of compliance levels and of the impact of urban waste-water on water quality. The Nitrates Action Programme created an environmental baseline which all Irish farmers must achieve and has resulted in improving trends in the level of nitrates and phosphates in rivers and groundwater.

This second RBMP will establish :

(1) an Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme to be implemented by 30 new Advisors — funded by Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG), Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the dairy co- ops — who will work under Teagasc and the dairy co-ops. The Advisors will work on a one-to-one basis with farmers to bring about behavioural change through improved agricultural practices in areas which have identified pressures on water bodies.

(2) Local Authority Support and Advisory Teams to carry out scientific assessments and to drive the implementation of mitigation measures at local level. Recruitment of investigative assessment personnel commenced in Quarter 1 2018 and provision has been made for up to 43 specialist staff to be in place by mid-2018. These resources will be assigned across the five regions.

(3) Agri-environment schemes implemented through the Rural Development Programme (RDP) to lead to investment in manure storage and improved nutrient utilisation. In particular, the targeted approach to the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri- Environment Scheme (GLAS), which has 50,000 participants, is intended to ensure appropriate supporting measures on farms to protect and improve water quality.

(4) improved compliance with the existing Good Agriculture Practice Regulations through implementation of the enhanced Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) for 2018–2021 and of the associated inspection regime. The Programme entails new strengthened water- protection measures, focused on intercepting and breaking nutrient transport pathways and on preventing sediment and nutrient losses to waters.

(5) a National Inspection Plan 2018–21 for domestic waste-water treatment systems, currently being finalised by the EPA – this will use the outputs of the catchment characterisation work to further improve the risk-based approach to inspection of septic tanks. It is expected that approximately 1,000 inspections will be carried out by local authorities nationally each year.

(6) significant planned investment in urban waste-water collection and treatment infrastructure. Over the period 2017–2021, the plan is for Irish Water to invest approximately €1.7 billion in waste-water projects, programmes and asset maintenance.

(7) a register of water abstractions (held by the DPHLG), who will consult on a proportionate and risk-based framework for the regulation of abstractions to ensure continued sustainable use of our water resources. The EPA will continue work on assessing risk due to abstractions, making use of new information as it emerges during the second cycle.

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.

UK exits the EU (Brexit Preparedness)

I posted so far a number of times (marked EU Notices) about the guidance issued to stakeholders by the European Commission and the EU regulators. Note : there are now 65 EU Notices issued, and this material is gathered here.

In addition, please note I posted in 2017 about the going forward invalidity of UK issued carbon credits (EUETS scheme).

On 18th April, the FT published an article about approximately 40 new legislative proposals to be issued over the next 10 weeks or so (in addition to the EU Notices). This article is here. At EU level, these legislative proposals are marked “Brexit Preparedness”.

So far :

(1) a wider consultation on WTO schedules (separation of UK from EU) – here.

(2) a proposal on EU type-approval legislation – here.

Yesterday, the Irish state broadcaster RTÉ published an article of a briefing by the Secretary General of the European Commission to the Brexit Steering Group of the European Parliament (and an associated internal document of the planned Brexit Preparedness legislative proposals).

This article identifies the list of areas for these new proposals – banking, tariffs, energy efficiency, medicines, visa, and transport.

Among the proposals is a plan to design a maritime route to link Ireland and the Continental part of the North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor.

The RTE report is here.

Project Ireland 2040 (Ireland)

(Today) 16th February 2018 Ireland published the results of its Project Ireland 2040 process, that seeks to plan for regional development and an additional one million additional residents. Project Ireland 2040 is here.

It consists of two plans.

A National Planning Framework (NPF) will decide how to achieve balanced regional development. It will prioritise growth in the major cities of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford (Dublin is forecast to grow at a slower rate). This NPF is here.

The second strand is the National Development Plan (NDP), a 10-year, €115 billion programme to upgrade State infrastructure in anticipation of the population increase.

The Irish Times (newspaper) summaries here.