1.The Sub-Committee previously considered this instrument when it was laid as a proposed negative. We recommended it be upgraded to the affirmative resolution procedure and the Department for Transport (DfT) has complied with that recommendation. The EC Statistical Returns Regulation requires airport operators to provide statistical data to Member States for onward transmission to Eurostat. The Explanatory Memorandum explains that, during the preparation of this instrument, a review of the Statistical Returns Regulation (which came into force in 2003) showed that a mechanism for enforcing the requirement for respondents to provide data was required in order to meet the UK’s responsibilities as a Member State. This instrument therefore provides a mechanism whereby the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) can enforce the obligation on airport operators and impose a civil penalty of up to £5,000 if they do not provide the required data. DfT says that, in the event of ‘no deal’ with the EU, the instrument will require airport operators to send statistical data to the CAA, and the CAA will be obliged to collect that data and send it to the Secretary of State (if directed). It states that, in practice, airports are likely to continue to provide data as they have done in the past.
2.According to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the purpose of these two sets of draft Regulations is to ensure that current EU standards and requirements, in relation to the placing on the market of detergents, can operate effectively after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and that a high degree of protection for the environment and human and animal health can be maintained. Amongst other changes, the instruments set out how decision-making powers currently held by the European Commission (“the Commission”), including in relation to derogations for certain detergents from biodegradability requirements, will be transferred to the Secretary of State as the UK’s competent authority for detergents, and how, in practice, these functions will then be exercised by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after exit. The Committee notes that HSE’s responsibilities after EU exit will expand significantly as a result of these and other instruments; it will need to be resourced adequately to carry out its new functions. The instruments also transfer to the Secretary of State and the devolved administrations powers from the Commission to initiate action under the ‘safeguarding clause’. This mechanism allows urgent, temporary restrictive action to be taken when there is evidence that a specific detergent, despite complying with the statutory requirements, constitutes a risk to the safety or health of humans or animals or a risk to the environment. We asked the Department about the use of the safeguarding mechanism, and whether the fact that the UK will no longer have access to the EU’s information-sharing systems will mean greater health or environmental risks. The Department told us that while the UK would lose access to information-sharing systems, such as the EU’s rapid reporting and response systems, in practice, the safeguarding mechanism was very rarely used, and the impact therefore was likely to be low. We are publishing the additional information provided by Defra at Appendix 1.
3.A range of EU legislation underpins financial support both for rural development through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), and for maritime and fisheries activity through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). In the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) to the draft Regulations concerned with European Structural and Investment Funds, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says that the instruments correct deficiencies in the relevant EU legislation to enable existing programmes in the UK currently funded by the EAFRD or the EMFF to continue operating for the remainder of the 2014 to 2020 programme period. In the EM to the draft Rural Development Regulations, Defra explains that the instruments similarly amend retained EU law, again to ensure a basis to allow funding for the continuation of rural development programmes in the UK after EU exit. Defra says that the UK Government have guaranteed that any EAFRD and EMFF projects in the UK whose funding has been agreed before the end of 2020 will be funded for their full lifetime. It adds that the estimated value of the EU funds to be replaced is around £132.7 million for the remainder of the programme period (to 2020) for the EMFF, and around £400-£450 million a year for the EAFRD.
4.All four of the instruments were first presented to Parliament as proposed negative instruments. At the time, the Sub-Committee criticised a lack of background information and financial analysis in the EMs and recommended that the first of the European Structural and Investment Funds instruments, and both of the Rural Development Regulations, should be upgraded to the affirmative procedure, to allow the House an opportunity to press the Minister for a fuller explanation of their purpose and effect. The Sub-Committee welcomes that the Department has revised the EMs in response to the Sub-Committee’s concerns but notes that it would have been helpful to provide more financial information in relation to the two sets of Rural Development Regulations to inform Parliament’s debates of these instruments.
5.The Department for International Trade (DIT) states that the purpose of these draft Regulations is to ensure that EU-derived domestic export control legislation can operate effectively after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The instrument relates to firearms, their parts and components, and ammunition; dual-use items, such as goods, software, technology or documents which can be used for both civil and military applications; and items which could be used for capital punishment or torture. The instrument does not cover export controls on military goods. According to DIT, the intention is for the current controls to operate as they do now as far as possible; the key difference would be that after EU exit, controls would apply when relevant goods are exported from the UK, rather than from the EU. DIT has said that under the new arrangements, UK exporters of firearms to the EU would need to supply the Secretary of State with documentary proof that the importing country has authorised the import and, if the goods transit any country, that there is no objection to the transit. The export of items to the EU that can be used for torture or capital punishment would be subject to the same prohibitions and licence requirements that currently apply to such items for third-country exports. Businesses wishing to export dual-use items to the EU would need to obtain an open general export licence (OGEL). DIT explains that exporters can register for an OGEL licence now which will come into force on exit day, and that registration through SPIRE, the Export Control Joint Unit’s (ECJU) electronic licensing system, is free and straightforward. Exporters will need to state where records of any exports will be kept and where the ECJU may inspect them.
1 Regulation (EC) No 437/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 February 2003 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of passengers, freight and mail by air, 11 March 2003
2 The European Commission’s statistical body.