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.

Manufactured Goods (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

On 1st Sept 2020, the UK issued instructions for persons placing manufactured goods on the UK market after 1 Jan 2021. These instructions are here.

The instructions detail the situation for the GB market, separate links access instructions for GB companies placing goods on the EU market, and for Northern Ireland. Please follow those links and read the information set out there.

Separate rules apply to chemicals, medicines, vehicles and aerospace. Follow the links for the latest information. Medicines is well elaborated.

There are also rules for goods that are not covered by EU rules. Follow those links for the latest information there.

Finally, some other categories have particular rules, follow those links.

Please read my separate Blog post on UKCA marking. Note, UKCA marking will not be recognised in the EU or Northern Ireland markets. Products currently requiring a CE marking for sale in the EU will continue to need a CE mark.

Note, distributors of EU goods in the UK will become importers from 1 Jan 2021.

Queries should be sent to BEIS.

UKCA Mark (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

On 1st September, the UK issued instructions for manufactured goods (and some other classes of goods), together with instructions on the UKCA mark applicable from 1st Jan 2021.

The UKCA mark instructions are here.

The instructions for manufactured goods are here.

The instructions for medical devices are here (note CE marked goods can circulate in GB until 30 June 2023).

The instructions for construction products are here.

The instructions for explosives are here. (HSE)

The instructions for rail interoperability are here. (dating from 1st July 2020)

UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking is a new UK product marking that will be used for goods being placed on the market in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). It covers most goods which previously required the CE marking, and aerosol products. I Blog posted some time ago about UKCA marking coming in.

UKCA marking alone cannot be used for goods placed on the Northern Ireland market, which will continue to require CE marking or UK(NI) marking.

The technical requirements (‘essential requirements’) and the conformity assessment processes and standards that can be used to demonstrate conformity – will be largely the same from 1st Jan 2021 as they are now.

UKCA marking can be used from 1 January 2021. However, CE marking will be permitted until 1 January 2022 in most cases.

CE marking will only be valid in Great Britain for areas where GB and EU rules remain the same. If the EU changes its rules and the product carries the CE mark on the basis of those new rules, CE marking will not be permitted for sales in Great Britain even before 31 December 2021. Please look out for Blog posts.

UKCA marking will not be recognised on the EU market. Products currently requiring a CE marking will need a CE marking for sale in the EU from 1 January 2021. [note from 1 Jan 2021, CE marks must be issued by legal entities based in the EU]

UKCA marking does not apply to existing stock, for example if the good was fully manufactured and ready to place on the market before 1 Jan 2021. In these cases the good can be sold in Great Britain with a CE marking even if covered by a certificate of conformity issued by a UK body.

On 1 Jan 2021 UK standards will be the same in substance and with the same reference as the standards used in the EU. However, they will use the prefix ‘BS’ to indicate that they are standards adopted by the British Standards Institution as the UK’s national standards body.

From 1 Jan 2022, CE marks will not be recognised in Great Britain for areas covered by the UKCA mark instructions and the UKCA marking. However, a product bearing the CE marking would still be valid for sale in the UK so long as it was also UKCA marked and complied with the relevant UK rules. Separate rules apply to medical devices (see the link above).

Product areas covered by the UKCA marking

• Toy safety

• Recreational craft and personal watercraft

• Simple pressure vessels

• Electromagnetic compatibility

• Non-automatic weighing instruments

• Measuring instruments

• Lifts

• ATEX

• Radio equipment

• Pressure equipment

• Personal protective equipment

• Gas appliances

• Machinery

• Outdoor noise

• Ecodesign

• Aerosols

• Low voltage electrical equipment

• Restriction of hazardous substances

All enquiries should be to BEIS.

This is a summary, please follow the links and read the instructions in full.

UK implementation of Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol (Northern Ireland)

The UK government has today published its approach to implementing the Ireland-Northern Ireland Protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement that was signed with the European Union.

The Protocol sets up special arrangements that stem from the Withdrawal Agreement and apply in Northern Ireland from 1st January 2021, until at least 2024, when the first four-year consent vote process contained in the Protocol is initiated.

The Protocol covers a range of areas: human rights, the Common Travel Area, customs and trade, regulation of manufactured goods, the Single Electricity Market, some limited state aid provisions, and VAT and excise. The paper published today sets out the UK’s thinking in all of these areas. But the core of the Protocol is the provisions on customs and trade. It is these areas which are covered in most detail in the document.

It is the responsibility of the UK Government and UK authorities to give effect to the Protocol in Northern Ireland. The Protocol has as Annex 2, a list of EU law that will continue to apply in Northern Ireland – at least 2021 to 2024.

The UK approach is set out in a Cabinet Office Command Paper – here.

The paper sets out four key commitments that will underpin the UK Government’s approach to implementing the Protocol:

• There will be unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s producers to the whole of the UK market and this will be delivered through legislation by the end of the year.

• No tariffs will be paid on goods that move and remain within the UK customs territory

• Implementation of the Protocol will not involve new customs infrastructure – with any processes on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland kept to an absolute minimum so that the integrity and smooth functioning of the UK internal market is protected.

• Northern Ireland’s businesses will benefit from the lower tariffs delivered through our new Free Trade Agreements with countries like the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan – ensuring Northern Ireland firms will be able to enjoy the full benefits of the unique access they have to the GB and EU markets.

Today’s publication also sets out plans to establish a new business engagement forum, which will meet regularly to allow Northern Ireland’s businesses to put forward proposals and provide feedback on how to maximise the free flow of trade. The Northern Ireland Executive will be invited to join the forum.

The Withdrawal Agreement is administered by a Joint EU-UK Committee set up under the Agreement, and both the Agreement and the Protocol have dispute mechanisms.

More detail is expected, and accordingly I will write more Blog posts.

COVID-19 PPE specification (UK)

The government (DHSC) has today (31st March) published its PPE specification – here.

This covers –

(1) gowns,

(2) masks, including respirator masks and hoods

(3) eye protection

General requirements

(1) All products must have their CE marking clearly evident on the product and/or packaging and must conform to the relevant directive:

Medical Devices Regulation 2017/745

(2) Any product that contains phthalates must be indicated on the packaging in accordance with:

Medical Devices Regulation 2017/745.
Personal Protective Equipment Directive 89/686/EEC

(3) In accordance with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended) (COSHH) safety data sheets for all products that fall under this Regulation must be provided to NHS Supply Chain.

(4) All products and packaging should be latex free where possible. Any products or packaging containing latex must be clearly labelled as such to inform the user.

(5) All products must be supplied with a minimum 3 years shelf life from the date of manufacture.

(6) Where applicable all products must be supplied with instructions for use and disposal/recycling instructions or symbols printed in English.

Please read the attached link – here – for the detailed requirements applicable to each product group.

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.

Class Action in Consumer Protection (EU Law)

The Council of the EU today reached agreement on a draft directive on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers.

The draft directive is here.

The directive empowers qualified entities, such as consumer organisations, to seek, in addition to injunctions, also redress measures, including compensation or replacement, on behalf of a group of consumers that has been harmed by a trader in violation of one of the EU legal acts set out in an annex to the directive. These legal acts reflect recent developments in the field of consumer protection and extend to areas such as financial services, travel and tourism, energy, telecommunications and data protection, in addition to general consumer law.

Member states shall, for the purpose of representative actions for redress, be free to choose between an opt-in and an opt-out system. In an opt-in system, consumers will be required to express their wish to be represented by the qualified entity for the purpose of a particular representative action. In an opt-out system, consumers who do not wish to be represented by the qualified entity for the purpose of a particular representative action will be required to make a statement to that effect.

Member states will have 30 months from the entry into force of the directive to transpose it into national law, as well as an additional 12 months to start applying these provisions.

The directive will apply to representative actions brought after the date of application.

On the basis of the agreed text, the Council will start negotiations with the European Parliament with a view to exploring the possibility of an agreement for the swift adoption of the directive at second reading (“early second reading agreement”).

What is happening re the Withdrawal Agreement (Northern Ireland Brexit)

Exit day is 31st October (this date is in a Statutory Instrument)

UPDATE : the revised Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol is here.

Open Europe has usefully done a track changes here.

At 1.08am this morning Tony Connolly (RTE News) tweeted the following re the Customs and Consent aspects RTE News understands is agreed between the EU and UK negotiators re a new Ireland Protocol to the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement – [I have numbered]

[the EU and the UK are presently negotiating a revised Ireland Protocol (“backstop”) to the Withdrawal Agreement (the “deal”), in the hopes that it can be agreed by the UK Parliament where the original Withdrawal Agreement had failed before]

[remember : in the original Withdrawal Agreement, the Ireland Protocol (backstop to prevent a hard land border) would kick in once the Transition/Implementation period and any time extension to it had elapsed, and it would operate until a new Free Trade Deal (FTA) had been agreed between the EU and the UK.]

[remember : if the Withdrawal Agreement is agreed, and the necessary Withdrawal Implementation Bill is enacted in the UK, then the UK exits on 31st October, but stays aligned with the EU, accepting EU Law, and the operation of the Brexit Law is delayed, until December 2020 (the end of the Transition/Implementation Period unless it itself is extended)]

(1) Customs: Northern Ireland is legally in the UK’s customs territory, but would apply the EU’s rules and procedures on tariffs.

(2) Northern Ireland would also be aligned with the rules of the single market for industrial goods and agri-food products, meaning both regulatory and customs checks and controls on the Irish Sea for goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

(3) However, the extent of the controls would be reduced thanks to a series of tariff exemptions.

(4) There would be an automatic exemption for personal goods and possessions carried by those travelling back and forth between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, or, for example, if an individual was moving house.

(5) However, there would potentially be a broader category of goods and tradable products that could be exempt from tariffs and controls if there was no risk whatsoever of such goods entering EU’s single market across the land border.

(6) These categories of goods would be decided on in the future by the Joint Committee of EU and UK officials by consensus.

(7) The Joint Committee was established in the original Withdrawal Agreement as a way for both sides to manage the new arrangements.

(8) The intensity and scope of Irish Sea checks would be limited by a risk-analysis. However, the EU would, through the Joint Committee, have a veto over which kinds of goods would enjoy an exemption from tariffs and controls.

(9) There would also be a system of rebates for goods shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland if those goods attracted an EU tariff that was higher than the UK tariff.

(10) Consent: The mechanism essentially provides a qualified opt-out of the revised backstop arrangements via the NI Assembly.

(11) Northern Ireland would take on the new customs and regulatory regime for four years after the end of the transition period, which is due to conclude at the end of 2020.

[presumably the date of the start of this new customs and regulatory regime could be delayed by extending the transition period, the original Withdrawal Agreement allowed for the transition period to be extended as an alternative – Tony Connolly does not say] UPDATE – the option to extend the transition period is in the Withdrawal Agreement – deadline is 30 June 2020 for UK-EU Joint Committee to decide whether to extend transition beyond 31st December 2020.

(12) At that point Stormont would have to take a view as to whether or not to opt out of the new arrangements.

[Stormont is the Northern Ireland Assembly that has not met for 1,000 days, efforts are underway to restart it]

(13) If Stormont voted to opt out, then there would be a two year cooling off period, during which all sides would have to find an alternative way of complying with the Good Friday Agreement and avoiding a hard border.

(14) If at the end of the two years no alternative was found, then the Protocol would lapse, meaning Ireland would be back to a hard border scenario.

(15) However, if the Stormont Assembly were to collapse during that period, then the default would be that the Protocol arrangements would continue to apply (ie, the revised backstop).

(16) But there will also be important variations on how Stormont votes for a potential exit.

(17) If Stormont decides to use a simple majority vote, which is seen as less favourable to the DUP, then if that vote to opt out does not succeed, then Stormont would vote again four years on an opt out.

(18) However, if Stormont decided to go for a cross-community majority vote, which is seen as more favourable to the DUP, and the vote did not pass, then Stormont would have to wait another eight years before having another opt-out vote.

[the UK has already issued its temporary arrangements for waiving customs and checks applying to goods moving from Ireland to Northern Ireland, I Blog posted about that]

UK Temporary Import Tariff Regime (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st October (this date is in a Statutory Instrument)

Today (8th October) the UK republished it’s temporary Import Tariff Regime that will apply in a no-deal Brexit.

Here

[this Blog does not focus on Customs or VAT]

It is mostly unchanged from the March version. Three aspects have changes – affecting HGVs, bioethanol and clothing –

• lower tariffs on HGVs entering the UK market, striking a better balance between the needs of British producers and the SMEs that make up the UK haulage industry, ensuring that crucial fleet replacement programmes that help to lower carbon emissions can continue

• adjusted tariffs on bioethanol to retain support for UK producers, as the supply of this fuel is important to critical national infrastructure

• tariffs applied to additional clothing products to ensure the preferential access to the UK market currently available to developing countries (compared to other countries) is maintained.