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.

Food and Drink Labelling (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

Food and drink producers, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers in Great Britain (GB) must change labels if dealing with the EU from 1 January 2021.

The DEFRA instruction – here – is to contact the EU importer to find out how the EU’s labelling requirements will affect a particular GB export product from 1 Jan 2021.

In the Withdrawal Agreement, a good is ‘placed on the market’ in the EU, when it is first supplied for distribution, consumption, or commercial use, whether free of charge or not.

All food placed on the EU market from 1 January 2021 will need to meet EU rules.

Food business operator (FBO) address

Pre-packaged food and caseins must have an EU or Northern Ireland (NI) address for the FBO, or an address of the EU or NI importer on the packaging or food label.

EU organic logo

The EU organics logo must not be used from 1 January 2021 unless:

• the UK control body is authorised by the EU to certify UK goods for export to the EU

• the UK and the EU agree to recognise each other’s standards (called ‘equivalency’)

Contact the control body to stay up to date.

If the UK and the EU do not reach an equivalency deal, organic food cannot be exported (from GB) to the EU and be labelled organic. Food can still be exported using non-organic labelling if it meets all other marketing standards and any organic labelling is removed or covered.

EU emblem

The EU emblem must not be used on goods produced in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) from 1 January 2021 unless authorised by the EU to do so.

Health and Identifcation Marks (food products of animal origin – POAO)

Information on POAO health and identification marks that apply from 1st Jan 2021 is here.

Country of origin labels

Food from and sold in NI can continue to use ‘origin EU’ from 1 January 2021.

Food from and sold in GB can be labelled as ‘origin EU’ until 30 September 2022.

From 1 October 2022, food from GB must not be labelled as ‘origin EU’.

Please read further in the DEFRA instruction for specifics of particular animal products, and the use of geographical indicators.

EU Safer Food Package (EU and UK from 1st Jan 2021)

The smarter rules for safer food (SRSF) package is a set of EU regulations for the protection against animal disease and plant pests. The package modernises, simplifies and improves existing health and safety standards for the agri-food chain. It takes a risk-based approach to animal, plant and public health protection, introducing more efficient pest and disease control measures.

The package includes 3 principal EU regulations:

• Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625: how controls across the agri-food chain will be monitored and enforced – applies from 14 December 2019

• Plant Health Regulation (EU) 2016/2031: controls for protecting plants from disease and pests – applies from 14 December 2019

• Animal Health Regulation (EU) 2016/429: a framework for the principles of European animal health – applies from 21 April 2021

The new Official Controls and Plant Health Regulations now apply in the UK. From 1 January 2021, these regulations will be retained by the Withdrawal Act and will continue to apply subject to any amendments Parliament may agree. UK legislation is also enacted.

The new Animal Health Regulation is not applicable until 21 April 2021, after the end of the transition period, and so the UK is not obliged to implement it.

EU Official Controls Regulation 2017/625

The new EU Official Controls Regulation (OCR) was published on 15 March 2017 and will apply in EU member states from 14 December 2019, alongside the Plant Health Regulation.

It sets out mechanisms for ensuring that responsible persons and authorities enforce the rules and must verify that businesses are complying with the legal requirements. It explains what action enforcement authorities must take when they spot such non-compliance. This covers:

• food and food safety, integrity and wholesomeness at any stage of production, processing and distribution of food

• feed and feed safety at any stage of production, processing and distribution of feed and the use of feed

• animal health requirements

• prevention and minimisation of risks to human and animal health emerging from animal by-products and derived products

• welfare requirements for animals

• protective measures against pests of plants

• requirements for the placing on the market and use of plant protection products and the sustainable use of pesticides, with the exception of pesticides application equipment

• organic production and labelling of organic products

• use and labelling of protected designations of origin, protected geographical indications and traditional specialities guaranteed

• deliberate release into the environment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) for the purpose of food and feed production.

The requirements of the OCR legislation cover how inspections, audits and sampling take place. It simplifies the current rules and makes sure there is consistency across the entire agricultural industry and food chain by including plants and plant products and animal by-products.

The OCR simplifies and brings together several existing control rules. It repeals Regulation 882/2004 and Regulation 854/2004.

Some of the areas changing include:

• extending official controls to plant health and animal by-products

• increasing the transparency of controls carried out by national enforcement authorities

• creating a common framework for carrying out border controls on animals and goods entering or crossing the EU

• strengthening controls to identify fraudulent practices at an early stage

• modernising the computerised systems for the management of data and information on official controls

EU Plant Health Regulation 2016/2031

The EU Plant Health Regulation (PHR) was published on 26 October 2016 and will apply to EU member states from 14 December 2019, alongside the Official Controls Regulation.

The new EU PHR sets out controls and restrictions that will apply to imports and internal movement of certain plants, plant pests, and other materials like soil, to help reduce these risks.

The SRSF package revises and improves the current EU plant health legislation. The PHR repeals Directive 2000/29.

Some of the areas changing include:

• extending the scope and changing the format of plant passporting

• new requirements for authorisation to issue plant passports

• more goods imported to the EU will need a phytosanitary certificate

• new requirements for the registration of professional operators

• movements within the EU – restrictions between disease free and pest free areas

• a strengthened protected zone

• new requirements applying to high risk plants and regulated non quarantine pests (RNQPs)

• a more precautionary approach to new trade flows and a commitment to undertake thorough pest risk assessments

• new category of priority pests, including annual surveying requirements and outbreak contingency planning

EU Animal Health Regulation 2016/429

The EU Animal Health Regulation (AHR) was published on 31 March 2016.

The UK and other EU member states are currently in a 5-year implementation period for AHR. The new rules will apply in EU member states from 21 April 2021.

The AHR outlines the principles of European animal health, supporting:

• a quick reaction in cases of emerging animal diseases and controlling outbreaks as effectively and efficiently as possible

• a consistent approach in dealing with different animal health diseases

• reducing the effect of animal disease outbreaks on animal and public health, animal welfare, the economy and the wider rural community

• functioning of the EU internal market in animals and animal products.

The above is not a full list, please read the contents of the webpage – here.

Further useful information is here.

Note: a plant passport is NOT the same as a phytosanitary certificate.

Plants and Plant Products (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

‘Plant’ means a living plant (including a fungus or tree) or a living part of a plant (including a living part of a fungus or shrub), at any stage of growth.

‘Plant product’ means products of plant origin, unprocessed or having undergone simple preparation, in so far as these are not plants, including wood and bark.

Instructions are issued by DEFRA and APHA for Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) – here.

We await the instructions for Northern Ireland.

Importing plants and plant products from the EU from 1 January 2021

High-priority plants and plant products from the EU must have:

• a phytosanitary certificate (PC)

• a pre-notification submitted by the importer in England, Scotland or Wales

• documentary and identity checks

• a physical inspection

The importer will pay for these services.

High-priority plants and plant products from the EU that will need a PC from 1 January 2021 include:

• all plants for planting

• ware potatoes

• some seed and timber

• used agricultural or forestry machinery

The importer must pre-notify for imports of solid fuel wood that aren’t regulated. A PC is not required for these imports.

Importing plants and plant products from 1 April 2021

The importer must use the Import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS) to notify the Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA) or the Forestry Commission that regulated plants and plant products will be imported.

All regulated plants and plant products imported to England, Scotland or Wales from the EU must have phytosanitary certificates (PCs).

APHA will inspect the PCs in England and Wales. The Scottish Government will inspect PCs in Scotland.

Regulated plants and plant products include:

• all plants for planting

• root and tubercle vegetables

• some common fruits other than fruit preserves by deep freezing

• some cut flowers

• some seeds and grains

• leafy vegetables other than vegetables preserved by deep freezing

• potatoes from some countries

• machinery or vehicles which have been operated for agricultural or forestry purposes

Importing plants and plant products from 1 July 2021

Regulated plants and plant products will have extra documentary checks and physical inspections.

The importer must use IPAFFS to notify APHA or the Forestry Commission of the import of regulated plants and plant products.

Movement of wood packaging material

Wood packaging material (WPM) moving between the UK and the rest of the EU can currently move freely without checks or controls.

WPM includes:

• pallets

• crates

• boxes

• cable drums

• spools

• dunnage

From 1 January 2021 all WPM moving between the UK and the EU must meet ISPM15 international standards by undergoing heat treatment and marking. All WPM may be subject to official checks either upon or after entry to the EU.

Checks on WPM will continue to be carried out in the UK on a risk-targeted basis only. The plant health risk from WPM imported from the EU is not expected to change from 1 January 2021.

The above is not a full list, please read the entire webpage with its links – here.

GB-EU Border Checks (UK & EU from 1st Jan 2021)

On 14 July, the EU updated and reissued it’s 1 Jan 2021 Readiness Notice on Customs (dated 22 Nov 2019) and combined the content with the updated and replaced Readiness Notices on Preferential Rules of Origin (dated 4 June 2018) and Customs and Indirect Taxation (dated 30 Jan 2018), here.

The day before, on 13 July, the UK published its Border Operating Model, here. I Blog posted about it at the time.

The Institute for Government in the UK has published a handy explainer – here.

GB to EU trade – From 1 Jan 2021

(1) Full customs declarations (UK export declarations and EU import declarations) will be required.

(2) If applicable, tariffs and import VAT will be payable at the time of import, unless traders are eligible to defer payments.

(3) UK exit summary Safety and Security declaration (or combined fiscal and safety and security declaration) and EU entry summary Safety and Security declaration will be needed.  

(4) Checks according to international conventions (e.g. CITES) will take place.

(5) Full SPS checks will be imposed, including a requirement for UK Export Health Certificates.

(6) Additional requirements will apply to the export of other controlled goods, in line with EU and member state rules.

(7) Excise goods will be subject to the rules applied by the importing EU member state.

EU to GB trade –

From 1 Jan 2021

(1) Full customs declarations will be required for controlled goods (e.g. excise goods like tobacco and alcohol).

(2) For standard goods (most goods), simplified customs requirements will be in place from January. Traders will have to keep sufficient records of their imports, but will be able to defer full customs declarations until 1 July 2021 (although they may submit customs declarations before if they wish).

(3) If applicable, tariffs will be payable, but it will be possible to defer payment until customs declarations are made (no later than July 2021). If applicable, import VAT will be payable, although many traders will be able to defer payment.

(4) An EU exit summary Safety and Security declaration will be needed.

(5) Checks according to international conventions (e.g. CITES) will take place.

(6) Imports of high-risk live animal and plants (and animal and plant products) must be pre-notified to the UK authorities via IPAFFS, have correct health documentation and may be subject to checks. Physical checks will be carried out at the point of destination or other approved premises.

(7) Import licenses and other requirements will apply to the import of some high-risk goods.

(8) Businesses importing excise goods will need to pay GB excise duties using the CHIEF or CDS systems (although excise duties are already payable on excisable imports from the EU).

From April 2021

Imports of all products of animal origin, regulated plants and plant products will require pre-notification to the UK authorities via IPAFFS and must have correct health documentation. Necessary physical checks will take place at the point of destination or other approved premises.

From July 2021

(1) Full customs declarations will need to be made at the time of import for all goods. Some traders may be eligible for simplified declaration procedures.

(2) Any applicable tariffs will be payable on import, although many traders are eligible to defer payments.

(3) A UK entry summary Safety and Security declaration will be needed.  

(4) Products subject to SPS checks will need to transit through a designated Border Control Post equipped to handle the goods in question and be subject to checks. Goods will subject to an increased rate of physical checks.

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 (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.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Notification (UK WTO)

The UK is a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The WTO members operate amongst themselves an Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures.

The UK submitted (13 March) information (for circulation to WTO Members) to answer the matter of the ongoing implementation of the United Kingdom’s obligations under this WTO SPS Agreement during the transition period following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, and to set out the UK’s own SPS Regulatory System.

The UK ceased to be a member State of the European Union on 31 January 2020. The UK and the EU agreed a Withdrawal Agreement which provides for a time-limited transition period until 1 January 2021 during which European Union law, as implemented through the Withdrawal Agreement, will continue to apply to and in the United Kingdom.

This means that the European Union SPS regime continues to apply in the United Kingdom during the transition period and, following that, the United Kingdom will apply its own SPS regime.

The United Kingdom Parliament legislated to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 by means of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The 2018 Act preserves, and incorporates into domestic law, those elements of European Union law which will apply in the United Kingdom at the end of the transition period.

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 in turn implements the Withdrawal Agreement (which provides for the transition period) including by amending the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to reflect the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.

The UK SPS Regulatory System is set out in the Notice – here

The UK Government is responsible for matters pertaining to the SPS Agreement and international trade. However, powers to implement, regulate and assure food safety, animal and plant health including matters relating to import and export, are devolved by the UK Parliament to the respective administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (collectively referred to as the Devolved Administrations).

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.

Export-Import (Hops) (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st January (end of this month)

Transition Period end date is 31st December (end of this year)

Instructions for trading with the EU (hops and hop products, an agricultural product) after Exit day are set out here. Note these set out in No Deal scenario format – I have adjusted below.

I am posting this Blog because it illustrates the UK approach for trade with the EU in those agricultural products, post Brexit, for which the EU has marketing standards.

Pre-Brexit

Hops marketed in the EU must meet rules on marketing standards. This includes hops extracts, hop cones and ground, pellets or powdered hops cones.

To show that they meet these standards, imports to the UK:

• from non-EU (third) countries, must have an Attestation of Equivalence

• from the EU, must have an EU hops certificate

The UK inspection agency is the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) – this agency inspects at least 5% of hops imports from each non-EU country. The UK does not currently inspect imports of hops from the EU.

Hops produced in the UK are issued with EU hops certificates from hops certification centres. With some exceptions, the certificates are needed for:

• marketing hops in the EU (including the UK)

• exporting hops

Post-Brexit

UK certification centres will still issue hops certificates for hops produced in the UK.

UK hops certification centres must remove all EU branding (including references to the EU and the EU emblem) from certificates from Exit day (or from the end of the Transition Period). The form of the certificate and the process for getting a certificate will not change.

Hops imported into the UK (after Exit day or after the end of the Transition Period) must be accompanied by one of the following as evidence that they meet UK marketing standards:

• the new UK Attestation of Equivalence issued by an authorised third country agency

• EU Attestation of Equivalence issued by an authorised third country agency (can be used until 31 October 2021)

• EU certificate for hops imported from the EU (can be used until 31 October 2021) – this must comply with EU rules and can be issued by a body authorised by an EU member state

After 31 October 2021, all hop imports from the EU and other third countries must be accompanied by a new UK Attestation of Equivalence. This must be issued by an authorised third country agency. A list of these agencies will be published on GOV.UK following EU exit. Agencies currently registered with the EU will be registered with the UK when the UK leaves the EU.

The UK may stop accepting EU Attestations of Equivalence and EU certificates before 31 October 2021 if EU marketing standards for hops do not meet UK standards.

The EU only accepts imports of hops accompanied by an EU Attestation of Equivalence, issued by an authorised agency in the exporting third country.

The UK government intends to apply to the EU to list RPA as the UK agency authorised to issue Attestations of Equivalence. RPA will not be able to issue Attestations of Equivalence until the listing with the EU is complete.

Further details will be published when they are available. However, an exporter must first enrol with RPA to export hops after Brexit.

Other details are set out in the instructions.

New Rules from the Trade Deal

The instructions are currently silent on new rules from the Trade Deal.