STATE OF PLAY

The new Trade Deal –  

This week, Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a lunch meeting in Northern Ireland. Speaking afterwards, Martin said that Johnson had a “genuine desire” to finalise a UK-EU trade deal and that the UK PM did not want to compound the coronavirus crisis with a ‘no-deal’ economic shock. His comments were shared by UK Chief Brexit Negotiator David Frost who said that a free trade agreement with the EU could be agreed in September. The 7th round of negotiations will take place next week, with Frost and his counterpart Michel Barnier expected to meet for dinner in Brussels on Tuesday. Items on the agenda include the level playing field, trade in goods, governance for aviation and participation in EU programmes. Negotiations close on Friday, with further meetings possible the following week.  

The implementation of the Protocol –  

The UK Government has published new guidance describing additional changes and requirements for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland after the transition period. The paper covers issues such as digital declarations, the trader support scheme and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and manufactured goods. With regard to the latter, it explains that UK companies exporting the same goods to the EU, NI and their domestic market could require three different conformity assessment labels, the CE mark, which will be valid both in the UK and the EU, the UK (NI), which will be valid across the UK but not in the EU, and the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA), the UK’s equivalent of the CE mark which will be valid in Great Britain only.

On highly-specialised goods, the paper notes that businesses seeking to export chemicals to Northern Ireland at or above a level of 1 tonne per year will need either to ensure that the importer in Northern Ireland or the EU holds a registration under EU REACH, or appoint an Only Representative in Northern Ireland or the EU as registrant for the substance. Similarly, any business moving HFCs (the main type of fluorinated gas) from Great Britain into Northern Ireland will need to be registered on the EU HFC Registry and have sufficient quota allocated or authorisations to cover the quantities moved. Finally, tobacco and vapour products sold in Northern Ireland will have to comply with the EU Tobacco Products Directive and packaging will need to feature illustrations from the EU picture library.   The Government is expected to publish further guidance, including on the new conformity assessment labels, in the coming weeks.  

In other news – 

 – David Frost is understood to have told colleagues he will oversee talks with the EU even after he takes up his new post as National Security Advisor (NSA) in September. His appointment in June was intended to send a signal to the bloc that the UK was willing to walk away if a deal could not be struck over the summer.

– Cabinet Minister, Michael Gove, has written a letter to all businesses moving goods between the U K and EU, and between the UK and Northern Ireland, reminding them to prepare for the new arrangements with the EU from 1 January 2021, particularly in relation to customs and borders procedures.

– The European Commission has confirmed that UK citizens who moved to the EU before the end of the Brexit transition period will be able to settle in a different EU country than the one they are resident in. Conditions will apply, such as the need to prove five years of continuous residence in the bloc.

OTHER KEY DEVELOPMENTS

– Latest data from the Home Office show that, as of 31 July, two million EU citizens living in the UK have been granted settled status – allowing them to remain here permanently after Brexit. Another 4,600 applications were refused, 36,500 were withdrawn and 34,900 were made by people who are not eligible for the scheme.

– According to research conducted for the Department for International Trade, public attitudes towards potential trade deals have grown more sceptical about their overall benefits. For the first time, a majority of those surveyed no longer believed that trade deals would lead to more UK jobs, down from 51% last year to 42%. The study also showed increasing concerns about environmental and animal welfare standards, with support for a US trade deal falling by 10% in one year. 

Other trade deals – 

 – The UK’s trade negotiations with Japan have reportedly stalled after UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss insisted on a better deal for British food, with a particular focus on attempts to boost sales of the blue cheese Stilton. Japanese negotiators have so far argued that Tokyo’s new deal with the UK cannot go further than its existing agreement with the EU, as the latter is a much bigger trading partner comprising 27 economies, compared to the UK alone