21.The purpose of these draft Regulations is to remove reciprocal arrangements that require EU Member States to cooperate in the cross-border investigation of, and enforcement against, infringements of EU consumer laws, where the collective interest of consumers is being harmed. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) explains that in a ‘no deal’ scenario the UK would cease to benefit from the current reciprocal arrangements, and that it would not be appropriate for remaining Member States to benefit from the arrangements unilaterally in the UK. The instrument also seeks to ensure that UK enforcement bodies, such as the Competition and Markets Authority, retain the same powers as now for investigating and addressing infringements of retained EU law on collective consumer interest in the UK after exit. BEIS says that the Government will seek to maintain reciprocal high levels of consumer protection in the negotiations with the EU, including through mutual exchange of information and evidence, and that even in a ‘no deal’ scenario, UK enforcers and their EU counterparts may still agree to cooperate. The Government’s guidance makes clear, however, that if there is no agreement with the EU, there would no longer be reciprocal obligations on the UK or Member States to investigate breaches of consumer laws or take forward enforcement actions. The guidance also explains that UK consumers, when buying goods and services in the remaining Member States, would no longer be able to use the UK courts effectively to seek redress from EU based traders, and if a UK court did make a judgement, the enforcement of that judgement would be more difficult.
22.The European Union Directive (“the Directive”) on the recognition of professional qualifications sets out a framework of two systems for the reciprocal recognition of professional qualifications: the automatic system and the general system. The automatic system obliges Member States to recognise qualifications listed in an Annex to the Directive. If a European Economic Area (EEA) qualification is not listed in the Annex, it falls within the scope of the general system, which requires the qualification holder to be registered and allowed access to the profession if the UK regulatory bodies assess that the level of qualification is comparable to the relevant UK qualification standards. The automatic system for the recognition of pharmacy qualifications was implemented in Northern Ireland through the Pharmacy Order 1976 (“the 1976 Order”). These Regulations amend the 1976 Order so that, after exit, the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) will be able to continue accepting relevant qualifications unless they designate them as no longer acceptable.
23.The PSNI does not have a system for the recognition of qualifications under the general system, and these will be considered by the pharmacy profession regulator in England, Scotland and Wales, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). Registration with the GPhC allows a pharmacist to practise in Northern Ireland via an existing Memorandum of Understanding between the two regulatory bodies.
24.The provisions for temporary and occasional service provision are being revoked as they rely on reciprocal arrangements with the EEA and the provisions relating to the European Professional Card, which facilitates recognition procedures for healthcare professionals via an “Internal Market Information” system, are being revoked as the UK will lose access to the system in a ‘no deal’ exit. The Department for Health and Social Care has advised that it “will shortly lay an SI to put in place similar arrangements for the recognition of all EEA health and care professional qualifications across the UK”.
25.This Order will extend the use of automated “ePassport” gates to new cohorts of “low risk” passengers. The Home Office states that this is part of a long-term programme to develop a new global border and immigration system that makes better use of data, biometrics, analytics and automation to improve both security and fluidity across the border. The Order will enable nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States to use the ePassport gates as standard when crossing the UK border.
9 See Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Consumer rights if there is no Brexit deal (12 October 2018): [accessed 18 December 2018].
10 on the recognition of professional qualifications [accessed 18 December 2018].