Agriculture & Fisheries Bills (UK Brexit)

Exit day is Friday (11pm UK time)

The Brexit Agriculture Bill is already published and has a its Second Reading in February. The Brexit Fisheries Bill is being published later today.

The Agriculture Bill relates to England predominantly (and some provisions apply in Wales and Northern Ireland). It mainly deals with agriculture supports (phasing in a new changed basis for these supports that rewards nature and environmental protection), and government collection of data from economic actors in the food supply chain, in England. It enables England, Wales and Northern Ireland to set their own food marketing standards. Separate Agriculture Bills are expected in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Fisheries Bill is [update 30th Jan] publicised by the UK Government – it is not yet in the list of Bills. It sets up a new system for marine and coastal fisheries management, gives new powers to Devolved Governments, and includes a set of UK-wide objectives to manage fisheries stocks sustainably (and a new objective to move towards “climate-smart” fishing in UK waters). It gives new powers to the Marine Management Organisation to give advice and assistance on sustainable fisheries, marine planning, licensing and conservation overseas.

Further Blog posts will be issued on these matters in due course.

Timber Agreement (EU-Indonesia)

New EU-Indonesia bilateral agreement – technically a Voluntary Partnership Agreement – will see Indonesian timber and timber products systematically checked under an independently monitored traceability system to ensure they are produced in compliance with relevant Indonesian legislation.

Voluntary Partnership Agreements represent a key element of the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, under which the EU aims to strengthen forest governance and contribute to global efforts to eliminate illegal logging and related trade.

Per the EU Press Release on this – illegal logging is a major problem in many developing countries, posing a significant threat to forests. It contributes to the process of deforestation and forest degradation, threatens biodiversity, and undermines sustainable forest management and development.

In March 2013 the EU Timber Regulation entered into force prohibiting the sale of illegally harvested timber. The EU Timber Regulation obliges EU operators to ask suppliers for evidence that timber has been legally harvested. Once fully implemented, the FLEGT agreement with Indonesia will mean that Indonesian timber exports are considered to be fully compliant with the EU Timber Regulation. In this way EU demand for legal timber is expected to reinforce Indonesia’s efforts to eliminate illegal logging.

Indonesia is already rolling out a timber legality verification system on which the agreement with the EU is based. Known as the SVLK system, it foresees checks at various levels to ensure that the scheme is transparent and credible.

The first Voluntary Partnership Agreement to be formally concluded was with Ghana, followed by Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Liberia and Central African Republic.. Negotiations are on-going with Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Guyana, Honduras, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

Here is the EU guidance document on the EU Timber Regulation.