EU NIP announcements (Northern Ireland)

On 13 October, the EU announced its October 2021 package of proposed measures to amend the Northern Ireland Protocol (to the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement). This October 2021 package is here. (scroll down)

The October 2021 package is a series of “non papers”, these are not binding. The UK has it’s similar not binding “command paper” issued July – here. Both sets of documents contain a certain amount of spin.

UKG (UK Government) and the EU will discuss the documents over the next weeks. In the meantime, UKG had already extended indefinitely existing NIP grace periods and this is reflected in UKG Brexit Guidance (instructions) found collated in Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists.

The Northern Ireland Protocol regulates Northern Ireland’s access to the EU single market, but also affects it’s arrangements with the rest of the UK. This has since 1 Jan 2021 impacted on goods movements from Britain (GB) to Northern Ireland (UKG itself relaxed NIP rules for movement from Northern Ireland to GB); and it’s state aid rules.

Governance of the Northern Ireland Protocol arrangements is currently by the ECJ or CJEU as the court is known as in the EU. It is also an ask of UKG that this governance be altered and the role of the ECJ removed. This was a UKG ask at the time of negotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

In the event that agreement is not reached between the parties (UKG unilateral extension of grace periods is itself not agreed), it is open to one or the other to take unilateral action.

Further announcements are awaited.

EU announcements re NI Protocol (Northern Ireland)

The Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland (often referred to in the UK as the Northern Ireland Protocol), as an integral part of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, was agreed jointly and ratified by both the EU and the UK. It has been in force since 1 February 2020 and has legal effects under international law.

The EU has announced the following re Northern Ireland (as respects the NI Protocol):

(1) the EU extends the non-application of third country rules (grace period) for meat products to 30th September (1st October is the date when the UK will apply its own ban on chilled meat imports) – the EU declaration is here – the UK declaration is here.

This will mean that meat products can continue to move from Britain (a third country in EU terms) to Northern Ireland (a part of the UK subject to the NI Protocol).

This temporary solution is subject to strict conditions. For example, the meat products that are subject to the channelling procedure referred to in the United Kingdom’s unilateral declaration must remain under the control of the Northern Ireland competent authorities at all stages of that procedure. These meat products must be accompanied by official health certificates issued by the UK competent authorities, can exclusively be sold to end consumers in supermarkets located in Northern Ireland, and must be packed and labelled accordingly. (EU declaration)

(2) the EU will change its own rules so that regulatory compliance functions for medicines authorised by the UK for the Northern Ireland market, in accordance with the NI Protocol, may be located in Britain, subject to specific conditions ensuring that the medicines concerned are not further distributed in the EU Internal Market – the European Commission will put forward a legislative proposal in the early autumn (the grace period runs out at the end of 2021)

(3) the EU will facilitate the movements of guide dogs accompanying persons travelling from Britain to Northern Ireland – this is communicated to the UK authorities and it is for the Northern Irish competent authorities to define the details for its implementation on the ground

(4) the EU waives the obligation to show the motor insurance Green Card for drivers from the UK – applicable for Northern Irish motorists crossing the border into Ireland (not for British motorists travelling to Ireland)

(5) the EU has removed the need for re-tagging when animals move multiple times between Britain and Northern Ireland during their life – the European Commission adopted an implementing act to that effect on 29 June 2021 (Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1064).

The EU also announces the European Commission is working on a regulatory solution to facilitate the swift return of livestock to Northern Ireland from exhibitions or trade fairs in Britain, so that the animals concerned will not have to wait for a minimum residency period in Britain – the relevant delegated and implementing acts will be adopted in October 2021.

The EU also announces work is ongoing on a solution regarding the risk control of scrapie, to facilitate the movement of sheep and goats between Britain and Northern Ireland.

Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee (Northern Ireland)

The UK left the EU at end of January 2020. The EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement (an international treaty) requires a Joint Committee staffed by the EU and the UK to operate the Withdrawal Agreement going forward.

The Withdrawal Agreement contains specific measures that will apply in Northern Ireland after the transition period expires, i.e. from 1st January 2021.

The Joint Committee (amongst other matters) will oversee and operate these Northern Ireland measures.

The first meeting of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee will take place on Monday 30th March (by remote means).

The meeting will be co-chaired by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP and Vice-President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič.

The agenda will include four items:

1. Introduction and opening remarks from co-chairs

2. UK/EU Updates on implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement

3. Tasks and responsibilities of the Specialised Committees

4. AOB

The UK Delegation will include:

●   Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

●   The Paymaster General, Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP