Brexit and COVID-19 measures (UK)

The UK left the EU at end of January 2020, and will leave the transition period at end of December 2020.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11th March 2020.

These two events are prompting substantive changes in many occupational, health and safety, and environment related measures in the UK (substantive measures are also being taken in other countries, and at EU level).

The UK’s Brexit measures are found here.

[the vast majority of the UK’s Brexit measures are unchanged since any update made in February 2020]

The UK’s COVID-19 measures are found here.

[the vast majority of the UK’s COVID-19 measures date March 2020]

The UK’s Brexit and the COVID-19 measures are rooted in law. Cardinal Environment Limited advises on occupational health and safety law and environmental law via Email Alert to subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists. The next Email Alert on UK Registers & Checklists will be at end March (the monthly UK Email Alert as usual).

Subscribers are reminded that they can request Annual Review (a teleconference) on renewal of annual subscriptions.

Of particular note are –

(1) changes around borders

(2) changes around goods transport

(3) changes around people mobility, including across borders

(4) changes around workplace organisation, particularly additional requirements to keep the workplace safe and provide for home working

(5) temporary bans on the opening of some business premises on health grounds

(6) changes around worker employment (this Blog does not address detailed matters of Employment Law)

EU Readiness Notices (EU Brexit)

The UK is exiting the transition period on 31st December.

The European Commission is reviewing – and where necessary updating – the over 100 sector-specific stakeholder preparedness notices it published during the Article 50 negotiations with the UK.

The documents (updated so far) are published as ‘notices for readiness’ for 1st January 2021 –

(1) Air Transport – here

(2) Aviation safety – here

(3) Consumer protection and passenger rights – here

(4) Cosmetic products – here

(5) Animal feed – here

(6) Food law – here

(7) Industrial products – here

(8) Medicinal products for human use and veterinary medical products – here

(9) Movements of live animals – here

(10) Online sale of goods with subsequent parcel delivery – here

(11) Plant health – here

The transition period ends on 31st December, unless it is extended by agreement.

UK-EU CFTA (UK Brexit)

I posted earlier about the UK policy paper published on its proposed Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) with the EU.

Note : the UK government has since notified it does not wish to seek continued relationship with EASA (the EU’s aviation safety regulator) or EWRS (the EU’s early warning and response system), and it will not seek a waiver from the EU’s safety and security declarations. Accordingly, it envisages (and has notified relevant GB business via stakeholder notice, reported in the Daily Telegraph this morning) the EU will implement the UCC safety and security requirements on GB-EU trade. The UK will set its own requirements.

These EASA and EWRS aspects were already reported in the press.

The extract published by the Daily Telegraph’s Peter Foster (twitter) indicates the UK’s Border Delivery Group (BDG) expects to publish further on the matter of safety and security declarations at the end of March.

Please remember, different arrangements will apply in Northern Ireland.

This Blog does not focus on customs, vat or tariffs.

Immigration Bill (UK Brexit)

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (a Brexit Bill) was introduced in the House of Commons today (5 March 2020). This Blog does not focus on immigration or social security policy or law, and this post will be the only one on this matter.

The purpose of the Bill is to end free movement of persons in UK law and make nationals from the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, and their family members, subject to UK immigration control.

The Government’s intention is at the end of the transition period, 31 December 2020, citizens of the EU, the EEA EFTA states of Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, and of Switzerland, and their family members, will require permission to enter and remain in the UK under the Immigration Act 1971.

The Bill protects the immigration status of Irish citizens once free movement ends.

It also contains provision for the Government (and/or, where appropriate, a devolved authority) to amend retained direct EU legislation relating to the social security co-ordination regime, which is retained in UK law by the EUWA 2018.

The Bill was first introduced in the Commons in the previous Parliament where, in the 2017-2019 session, it reached Report stage after completing a Public Bill Committee. The Bill fell when Parliament was prorogued before the December 2019 General Election. I posted about it at the time.

There have been no substantial changes to the content of the Bill since it was previously considered in the last Parliament. The only changes made are minor drafting clarifications in places, and updates to the list of retained EU law to be repealed to avoid duplication of changes already made through the Immigration, Nationality and Asylum (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (2019/745) which come into force on 31 December 2020.

The Government has legislated to protect resident EEA citizens and their family members through the EUWAA 2020, which protects the residence rights of EEA citizens and their family members who are resident in the UK by the end of the transition period.

The Government fully opened the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to all EEA citizens and their family members on 30 March 2019. The Scheme is set out in the Immigration Rules to enable EEA citizens and their family members to apply for UK immigration status, so their current rights continue, and their status is clear when the new global points-based immigration system begins.

The Immigration (Citizens’ Rights Appeals) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 made under the EUWAA 2020, provide individuals who apply under the EUSS or for an EUSS family permit or travel permit, after 31 January 2020, with a right of appeal against decisions affecting their entitlement to enter and remain in the UK under the EUSS, and against decisions in relation to applications for EUSS family permits or travel permits.

Those individuals who have a right to apply under the EUSS will have until 30 June 2021 to do so, provided they arrived in the UK by the end of 2020.

This period of six months between the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) and 30 June 2021 is referred to as ‘the grace period’ and is a requirement of Articles 18(1)(b) and 18(2) of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement (and equivalent provisions in the EEA EFTA and Swiss citizens’ rights agreements). Statutory instruments to be made under the powers in the EUWAA 2020 will protect EEA citizens and their family members’ existing rights of residence, entry and exit until then. These savings will also extend to those with pending applications to the scheme and those with unresolved appeals.

The Government will also bring forward a statutory instrument to ensure individuals who are in the UK as frontier workers by the end of the transition period can continue working from January 2021 onwards. Frontier workers are individuals who are resident outside the UK, but employed or self-employed in the UK.

Further information may be obtained from these Bill Explanatory Notes – here.

UK-EU Comprehensive Trade Deal (UK Brexit)

Today the UK Government published its policy paper setting out its approach to negotiations for a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) with its neighbours, the EU27 bloc. The document is here.

Key aspects –

* It is a vision of a relationship based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals, with both parties respecting one another’s legal autonomy and right to manage their own resources as they see fit. Whatever happens, the Government will not negotiate any arrangement in which the UK does not have control of its own laws and political life. That means that we will not agree to any obligations for our laws to be aligned with the EU’s, or for the EU’s institutions, including the Court of Justice, to have any jurisdiction in the UK.

* The Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) should be – on the lines of the FTAs already agreed by the EU in recent years with Canada and with other friendly countries.

* The CFTA should be supplemented by a range of other international agreements covering, principally, fisheries, law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, transport, and energy.

* All these agreements should have their own appropriate and precedented governance arrangements, with no role for the Court of Justice.

The EU27 and the UK confirm a progress review will take place in June (this was in the Withdrawal Agreement). In the event that progress is not made, the EU27 and the UK will revert to No Deal. [The Withdrawal Agreement includes an option to extend the transition period for 1-2 years.]

Please note, the Brexit Notices issued by the EU27 and the UK in 2018 and 2019 set out the arrangements that would have applied in 2019 if the Withdrawal Agreement was not agreed (No Deal). The Withdrawal Agreement having been agreed, connectivity, on for the most part the same basis as before, is provided to the end of the transition period (Dec 2020) – the period we are in at the moment.

The 2018/2019 Brexit Notices now apply to No (EU-UK relations) Deal from 1st January 2021. Some updates, notably to processes, documents and dates, are included (as you will have been noticing as I have been posting on this blog).

Whilst it is envisaged that a basic level of travel connectivity will continue after end Dec, organisations and individuals wherever located should now prepare for the new arrangements, tariffs etc, between the EU27 and the UK, that will apply from 1st January 2021. This Blog does not notify on customs, VAT or tariffs, it is focused on ENV and OHS related regulatory matters.

Please keep following this Blog, as further details of the arrangements that will apply for ENV and OHS related regulatory matters from 1st January 2021, are published.

Please note, we expect to meet the deadline for supply of the necessary new UK Registers & Checklists (in all regional variants) by 1st January 2021.

Subscribers will note that provision is already starting to appear on their existing websites.

EU-UK Relations from 1st Jan 2021 (Brexit)

The EU today adopted a decision authorising the opening of negotiations for a new partnership with the UK, and formally nominating the European Commission as EU negotiator. The EU also adopted negotiating directives which constitute a mandate to the European Commission for the negotiations.

Per EU Press Release – here

The EU wishes to establish an ambitious, wide-ranging and balanced economic partnership with the UK. The mandate stresses that the future partnership should be underpinned by robust commitments to ensure a level playing field for open and fair competition, given the EU and the UK’s geographic proximity and economic interdependence.

The EU intends to establish a free trade agreement with the UK which ensures that zero tariffs and quotas apply to trade in goods. This agreement should provide for cooperation on customs and regulatory aspects. It should also include effective management and supervision, dispute settlement and enforcement arrangements.

On fisheries, the mandate outlines that the future partnership should uphold the existing reciprocal access to waters as well as stable quota shares. The agreement on fisheries should be established by 1 July 2020, to give time for determining fishing opportunities after the end of the transition period.

The mandate also contains provisions for future cooperation in areas such as digital trade, intellectual property, public procurement, mobility, transport, and energy.

The EU will seek to establish a comprehensive security partnership with the UK. The partnership should comprise law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, as well as foreign policy, security and defence. The mandate foresees that the future partnership should be embedded in an overall governance framework covering all areas of cooperation.

Link to EU negotiating directives.

Explosives Precursors from 1 Jan (UK Brexit)

The UK has not confirmed that it’s explosives precursors regulation system will continue in its current form after 1 January 2021. No notice is yet issued.

The matter is presently addressed (for the EU27) by a 98/2013 EU Marketing and Use Regulation, that will be replaced on 1st February 2021 by a 2019/1148 EU Explosives Precursors Regulation.

In the UK, this 2013 EU Regulation is retained as Retained EU Law, and a 2019 enacted Brexit EU Exit instrument makes the Retained EU document operate in the UK (see the Brexit Consolidated Law List in Subscribers systems). There is also domestic law.

The current UK explosive precursors regulation system is explained (2018) here.

The 2019 EU Regulation tightens controls (for the EU27 from 1st Feb 2021) on “explosives precursors”—chemical substances that have a legitimate purpose but can also can be used in home-made explosives—to keep pace with the evolving security threat.

The changes will further restrict access to explosives precursors and clarify the rights and obligations of those involved in the supply chain. It will distinguish between ordinary members of the public, who would require a licence to purchase restricted explosives precursors above a specified concentration limit, “professional users” who need the substances for their own trade, business or profession, and “economic operators” who trade in them. Professional users will not require a licence but will have to explain the purpose for which restricted explosives precursors were to be used. This information will then be available to EU27 national law enforcement and inspection authorities.

Until a UK notice is issued on the matter, subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists – UK systems – that have explosives precursors included in their systems – will have the 2013 EU Regulation (repealed in EU27 on 1 Feb 2021) in the Retained EU Law section of the Registers. The 2019 EU Regulation (applicable in the EU27) will appear below Guidance, with other supplied EU Law (applicable in EU27). They will also have the domestic law.