News & Insights

Weekly Update on UK-EU Relationship: week commencing 22 March 2021

The European Commission has sent a letter to the UK Government, giving formal notification of its intention to begin an infringement process against the UK. The UK is alleged to be in breach of substantive provisions in the Northern Ireland Protocol relating to the movement of goods and the good faith obligation under the Withdrawal Agreement.

The European Commission’s Vice-President also sent a letter to David Frost, asking that the UK Government suspend their unilateral decision to delay border checks on some goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. This letter requests that the UK consult within one month.

Monday 22 March

MPs are set to consider the Lords’ amendments to the Trade Bill, which is bouncing back and forth between both Houses. Monday’s session will cover Lord Alton’s amendment on ways to prevent trade with countries who have committed genocide.

Tuesday 23 March

The Lords will consider any Commons’ amendments to the Trade Bill following Monday’s proceedings.

The Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee will take evidence from representatives of the Scottish Government’s Health Protection Unit and Legal Directorate on the Health Security (EU Exit) Regulations 2021.

Wednesday 24 March

The Liaison Committee will question the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on topics including the economy and the UK’s place in the world post-Brexit.

The Northern Ireland Assembly’s Committee for the Executive Office will hold an oral evidence session with business organisations on post-Brexit transition.

Thursday 25 March

The International Trade Committee will continue their inquiry into the progress of, and issues relating to, trade negotiations led by the Department for International Trade, taking evidence from the following witnesses:

  • David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs, RSPCA;
  • Minette Batters, President, National Farmers Union;
  • Dr Iyan Offor, Researcher, Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law Governance, University of Strathclyde;
  • Peter Hardwick, Trade Policy Advisor, British Meat Processors Association;
  • Rt Hon Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade Policy, Department for International Trade;
  • Tim Smith, Chair, Trade and Agriculture Commission;
  • Victoria Prentis, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will continue their inquiry into Seafood and Meat exports to the EU, by hearing from:

  • George Eustice, Secretary of State;
  • David Kennedy, Director General Farming and Biosecurity, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs;
  • Ian Hewett, Operations Director, Animal and Plant Health Agency.

In case you missed it…

On Tuesday 16 March, the UK Government agreed fishing catch limits with the EU and Norway in 2021, signing a trilateral agreement for six jointly-managed fish stocks in the North Sea.

A £20 million SME Brexit support fund has opened for applications from smaller businesses for a grant of up to £2,000 to deal with new customs and tax rules in trading with the EU.

Key Dates for 2021:

  • 31 March: UK & EU to have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a framework for regulatory cooperation on financial services.
  • 30 April: ending the provisional application of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
  • 30 June: end of temporary bridging period for the free flow of data from the UK to the EU.
  • 1 July: end of six-month grace period for Great Britain-Northern Ireland trade on chilled meat products.
  • 1 October: new date for ending grace period in relation to food safety paperwork when moving agri-food goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  • 31 December: end of 12-month adaptation period for Great Britain businesses to implement new EU regulation in relation to the flow of medicines to Northern Ireland.