Q1: When was the implementation deadline was for introducing an enforcement regime under EU Regulation 1143/2014? Has the UK missed the deadline, and if so, why?
A1: In regards to the implementation deadline for enforcement, Article 30 (4) of the EU Regulation states that member states should have communicated their enforcement measures to the Commission by the 2nd of January 2016. The UK has missed this deadline, but now having laid the Order we are further ahead than many other member states who still have yet to implement enforcement regimes. The delay in implementing the EU Regulation is primarily due to the fact that implementation proved to be more complex than originally envisaged, requiring domestic issues around enforcement to be fully worked through. We have also needed to prioritise the demands arising from the UK’s exit from the EU.
Q2: Has there been any adverse impact as a result of the late implementation of the enforcement regime?
A2: As a consequence of the delay we have been at risk of activity that would constitute a breach of the EU Regulation taking place. Where we have been made aware of activity prohibited under the EU Regulation, such as the sale and transport of listed species, we have attempted to contact those in breach, so that they can be made aware that their activity contravenes EU law. In instances where the activity could potentially also constitute a breach of other domestic legislation, such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, we have made the relevant enforcement bodies aware.
The EU Commission has been in regular contact with the INNS team at Defra, and has from time to time requested updates on our progress in putting an enforcement regime in place. The Commission have been informed of our progress in response to these requests. No infraction proceedings have been commenced against the UK in relation to this matter.
Q3: The Explanatory Memorandum refers to guidance to the general public and enforcement bodies that will be published at the time of laying. Where can that guidance be found?
A3: As regards to guidance documentation as stated in the Explanatory Memorandum, it is our intention that these documents will be available prior to the Order coming into force. We had intended them to be ready at the time of laying. There is still some time before the Order comes into force, and we will have this guidance ready and finalised well in advance of the coming into force date in October. We do not believe that the public or enforcement bodies will be impacted by this and Defra policy will continue supporting the general public and enforcement until formal guidance is be published.
We continue to be in contact with relevant enforcement bodies, and we will be seeking their continued input in drafting comprehensive guidance. Any direct queries from enforcement bodies on the Order can be made to the policy team before more formal guidance is published. The general public are able to contact Defra correspondence, their MP, or the GB non-native species secretariat, who will ask policy to provide guidance if the question requires specific information relating to the Order. Policy have been helping answer correspondence from the public about the Order and will continue to do so.
20 March 2019