Single-Use Plastics Ban (EU)

In legal text (a Directive) adopted 27th March 2019, the European Parliament decided to address the matter of single-use plastics as follows :

(1) Single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers to be banned by 2021

(2) 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029

(3) More stringent application of the “polluter pays” principle

Specifically the following Products will be banned in the EU by 2021 :

* Single-use plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons and chopsticks)

* Single-use plastic plates

* Plastic straws

* Cotton bud sticks made of plastic

* Plastic balloon sticks

* Oxo-degradable plastics and food containers and expanded polystyrene cups

Member states will have to achieve a 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029, and plastic bottles will have to contain at least 25% of recycled content by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

The Directive will also strengthen the application of the polluter pays principle, in particular for tobacco, by introducing extended responsibility for producers. This new regime will also apply to fishing gear, to ensure that manufacturers, and not fishermen, bear the costs of collecting nets lost at sea.

In addition, the legal text agreed stipulates that labelling on the negative environmental impact of throwing cigarettes with plastic filters in the street should be mandatory, as well as for other products such as plastic cups, wet wipes and sanitary napkins.

The Directive now needs to be approved by the Council of Ministers before it enters EU law later this year. Member States will have two years to transfer the legislation into national law.

The Press Release (European Commission) is here.

I will load the Directive (once in law) into subscribers’ Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists.

EU Brexit Preparedness (EU Brexit)

UPDATE : the EU Contingency measures are now enacted – here.

Notwithstanding any approach made by the UK to delay the exit date, the EU is stepping up Brexit Preparedness activities.

Here – is the link to the EU Brexit Preparedness online site. New here are the links to the National EU-27 online sites (scroll down the page). Plus under Legislative Initiatives in the middle, find the EU Contingency measures now ready as legislative acts or finalised COM documents. I have posted about these before. Note : these EU Contingency measures are unilateral time-limited measures.

In addition, the EU has today launched an online portal detailing all preparedness work and supports available for farmers and agrifood operators – here.

There are also some bi-laterals, these are not gathered in one online portal, please keep following the Blog as I post about those as they are known about.

Brexit Update (EU, UK, Ireland)

Yesterday was a series of votes in the UK Parliament on the matter. Monday, the day before, was an announcement from the UK, and today there are announcements from the EU.

UK

(1) New European Temporary Leave to Remain. This will apply to EU and EEA nationals arriving in the UK after 29 March 2019. Persons wishing to stay longer than three months must apply and be granted European Temporary Leave to Remain which will last three years (and is non-renewable). Persons wishing to stay or to arrive after 1st Jan 2021 must do so under the new UK skills-based immigration system (the legislation is before Parliament).

The European Temporary Leave to Remain applies is there is no deal. If there is a deal that has the transitional arrangements set out in the current deal (that is not yet ratified) then registration under EU rules will apply after 29 March 2019. There is no announcement to elaborate that system, yet.

(2) Yesterday’s votes in Parliament do not ratify the deal (Withdrawal Agreement and Future Partnership Declaration). A further vote will take place on 14th February. It is not certain if that vote will ratify the deal. I will Blog post again.

(3) there is also an announcement re healthcare as respects UK nationals living in the EU/EEA area and Switzerland, here. See here for the position vis a vis Ireland.

(4) I updated (on the Blog post itself) re the expedited customs procedures that are planned for imports from the EU/EEA. I posted about these recently. Note as presently planned, these will not apply to the international border on the island of Ireland.

(5) Further Brexit regulations are in draft form and enacted – see the Brexit Law List in subscribers’ Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists.

EU

(1) the EU has a contingency plan and measures already published, and these are the Factsheets and Q&A here.

(2) today, the EU has published further measures, these deal with social security coordination, amongst other matters. And earlier the EU had issued measures to deal with Fisheries. The Press Release for today’s publication is here, and it has useful links from it.

Ireland

An omnibus bill of contingency measures is now published, here. Amongst other matters, this includes Healthcare.

EU No Deal Contingency Plan Update (EU Brexit)

As they promised, the European Commission has now published its update to its contingency plan for No Deal – 14 legal measures. This document is here.

(1) The Commission repeats its prior position – the EU no deal measures are unilateral, limited and temporary. Adds that they will not apply to Gibraltar.

(2) Re UK nationals in the EU Bloc, the Commission repeats its prior position that they should get residence permits. Silence re acquired rights.

(3) The Commission will issue guidance on social security coordination.

(4) Re Financial Services, the Commission will use its own secondary law powers to immediately adopt unilateral measures. Two of these were already announced.

EU bloc firms will be permitted one year access to derivatives clearing houses in the UK, and two years access to central securities depositories in the UK that settle trades (already announced), and a year-long window will be opened for EU bloc organisations to change the contractual terms of over the counter derivatives.

(5) Re Aviation and International Road Haulage, two legal acts will allow airlines to fly point to point between UK and European cities, the most basic form of landing rights. Aviation safety certificates are also temporarily extended. [these measures were already announced]

[still no measures for ownership rights, an extremely difficult problem for the International Airlines Group (Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling), which falls below the threshold to maintain its EU flying licences]

9 months of permit-free commercial road haulage, if reciprocal.

(6) Re Trade in Goods, the Commission confirms that general rules will apply, ie tariffs and non-tariff barriers. Adopts an immediate change to EU customs law and proposes a law on exports of dual use goods to the UK (civil goods with military uses).

Time limits are adjusted for customs declarations, but there are no special waivers to help with ro-to ferries at ports.

(7) Re EU Climate Change Policy, the Commission will immediately adopt three measures to take account of Brexit, one applies from January 2019 already.

FURTHER INFORMATION IS SET OUT IN THIS Q&A here.

I will add this document and the global ENV and OHS relevant legal measures to the Brexit Law List in Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists.

14 Nov 2018 Withdrawal Agreement (EU-UK Brexit)

I posted yesterday (Brexit Status) that Withdrawal Agreement text had been agreed between EU and UK negotiators. This text was agreed last night at a meeting of the UK Cabinet, and then published – here. Alongside the 14 Nov 2018 Withdrawal Agreement text, a starter for the Outline Political Declaration on the Future Relationship was also published, and a Joint Statement (in that link).

Alongside this, DExEU also published and Explainer and Explanatory Notes – here.

The EU also published a Fact Sheet on the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) text – here, and a Fact Sheet on the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland (one of the 3 Protocols to the WA) – here.

The 14 Nov 2018 Withdrawal Agreement has 185 Articles, 3 Protocols, and a series of Annexes.

The objective of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is to put in place an orderly exit of the UK from the EU on 12 midnight CET (11pm GMT) 29 March 2019 – dealing with matters such as citizen rights, money, and a series of separation technicalities. The WA (if ratified as a Treaty) also puts in place a Transition Period (in the UK, this is termed an Implementation Phase) lasting until 31 December 2020, during which EU Law will continue to apply and trade will be unchanged.

Note :

(1) the WA text must pass through a series of gates before ratification as a Treaty. When a Treaty, it will be given effect by the EU (Withdrawal and Implementation) Bill in the UK, which itself must be created and enacted. And this new Bill will necessarily amend and rewrite parts of the already enacted EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018. It is hoped, but by no means certain, these gates can be crossed by the exit date of 29 March 2019.

(2) during the transition to 31 Dec 2020, EU Law would continue to apply to and within the UK and override domestic law. But, as the UK will be a third country, this means it will have only minimal influence on the creation and enactment of EU law in that phase.

(3) a single extension for an (at present unspecified) length of time is permitted to the Transition Phase, this extension to be agreed by 1 July 2020. A firm end date will need to be negotiated by the European Council on 25th Nov (if it takes place).

(4) a specific Protocol for handling the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is the first of 3 Protocols in the 14 Nov 2018 WA text. This Protocol includes a detailed “backstop” to be used if the Future Relationship is not in place by the end of the transition period.

(5) the UK is a Third Country on exit on 29 March 2019, the transition period gives a further short period for transition to this Third Country status (relationship with the EU).

(6) the objective is to transition from the current EU member state status direct to the Future Relationship (Trade Agreement) status, via the Transition Period (which could be extended).

Further work is ongoing, and the WA text must pass a series of gates.

It is essential that Brexit Preparedness planning continues, and that the current Brexit Preparedness and Brexit Contingency EU and the UK Notices are read and understood. I have posted these. Please keep following this Blog for updates.

No Deal Contingency Action Plan (EU Brexit Contingency Measures)

The Commission has issued a Press Release updating on its No Deal Contingency Action Plan. The Press Release with links is here.

Note – the new Travel Notice (linked from the Press Release).

Note – the new 13 November Communication (linked from the Press Release)

Additionally two November 2018 PDF documents summarise the situation. Here and Here. The second PDF is reproduced as two images.

Persistent Organic Pollutants (EU)

The EU Regulation on Persistent Organic Pollutants will be reissued (recast). Consultation responses are here. The proposal is here.

Detail

The European Commission is recasting the Persistent Organic Pollutants Regulation (EC) No 850/2004 (the current POPs regulation) which implements the commitments of the EU under the Stockholm Convention on POPs, and also takes account of the 1998 protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution on POPs (protocol). Most EU countries, including the UK, are party to the Stockholm Convention and the protocol in their own right and as a member of the EU.

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are substances that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. Examples of POPs include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticides such as DDT.

The reasons for this recast are:

i. The EU Council Directive which provides the legal basis for the comitology committee for this regulation has been revoked and the committee ceased to exist on 1 June 2015.

ii. The regulation needs to take into account updated procedural changes introduced by the ‘Lisbon treaty’, in particular, which rules are subject to implementing acts and which conditions apply to the adoption of delegated acts.

The Commission proposes a recast of the Regulation with three objectives:

(1) to align the provisions for adoption of detailed implementing rules with changes introduced under the Lisbon Treaty—and, in particular, to stipulate which rules are subject to implementing acts and which to delegated acts; (see above)

(2) to involve the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in supporting the scientific, technical and reporting aspects of the Regulation—this includes providing advice on substances that are being considered by the Stockholm Convention for bans and restrictions and compiling, registering and disseminating information provided by Member States on the implementation of the agreement; and

(3) to simplify the reporting provisions.

Nonetheless there are changes, see the consultation responses.

BREXIT : It is possible that the recast Regulation will enter into force prior to the end of the post-Brexit implementation period on 31 December 2020. As a result, the Regulation could be directly applicable in the UK until the end of that period.

The UK relevant ministry (DEFRA) indicates possible concerns regarding the introduction of delegated acts and the ability for Member States to scrutinise and participate in decision making on the setting of thresholds and the nomination of POPs under the Stockholm Convention. It is not clear exactly, says the Minister, how the Commission will manage the approval of use of POPs in closed site systems nor how they will set waste thresholds for POPs in products. She believes that clarification over the ECHA’s role will be key. This includes whether there will be a requirement to use committees such as the Risk Assessment Committee and the Committee for Socio Economic Analysis to set maximum limits for POPs content within an article. The POPs element of the article above the maximum limit must be destroyed, usually at high temperature. The Government will therefore seek this clarification regarding the application of delegated acts during the negotiations.

The Minister welcomes the use of ECHA to assist in the implementation of the regulation as it brings the POPs regime into alignment with the REACH Regulation. This, she says, will help prevent conflicting decisions for the same substances and align timelines at the international and EU level. The UK is supportive of strengthening the role of the ECHA, and will be seeking further clarification regarding its role in relation to the POPs Review Committee (POPRC) and reporting to ensure there are no additional resource impacts.

The UK also supports streamlining reporting, digitalisation, and encouraging the use of the Information Platform for Chemical Monitoring (IPCheM). While there is no longer a requirement for triennial reports, a requirement is proposed to keep up to date data uploaded on the IPCHeM platform, allowing the ECHA to provide six-monthly reports to the Commission. The IPCHeM brings together chemical monitoring data under a new platform, established in 2015. It also brings the general EU reporting in line with the requirements under the Stockholm Convention, including requests for information for POPRC and the reporting for the convention under Article 13. The UK will seek clarification regarding the information and reporting requirements and standards which will be set by the ECHA going forward to align with the portal. Until the UK clarifies its relationship with the EU and the ECHA the precise impact of these changes once the UK has left the EU remains unclear.