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Brexit Weekly Digest - 2 July

This week the EU agreed to delay the ban on British chilled meats being sold in Northern Ireland, while the Jersey government also allows a three month extension on fishing licenses. The Northern Ireland Protocol is ruled as lawful by the Belfast High Court, meanwhile the EU rules UK data protection standards as adequate. Plus, the new Subsidy Control Bill replaces EU State Aid decisions on business bailouts and support.

Extension to Northern Ireland Protocol grace period for chilled meats agreed

The EU has agreed to delay the ban on British chilled meats being sold in Northern Ireland until 30 September 2021. Retailers will be able to continue selling chilled meats, such as sausages and mince, from Great Britain while ministers decide on a permanent solution. The agreement was made under the condition that the UK cannot change its domestic law on meat products for the next three months.

Cabinet Minister Lord Frost said, “This is a positive first step but we still need to agree a permanent solution - Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom and its consumers should be able to enjoy products they have bought from Great Britain for years”.

Meanwhile, European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said, “We hope that during these three months, the UK will engage constructively on the broader agreement in the areas of public, animal, and plant health based on alignment with EU rules”. EU officials have warned that there will be no further extension of grace periods after the 30 September.


Belfast High Court rules Northern Ireland Protocol as lawful

The Northern Ireland Protocol had been challenged as unlawful by unionist politicians, including Arlene Foster, Jim Allister and Northern Irish Pastor, Clifford Peeples, as it conflicts with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. However, the Judicial Communications Office has dismissed the challenge to EU exit protocol.

While Judge Colton agreed to find conflict in respect of free trade between Britain and Northern Ireland, he believed the relevant parts of the 1800 Acts of Union are “impliedly repealed” by the Withdrawal Agreement Act, meaning the more recent legislation takes precedence over old laws.

The result comes as a relief to UK and EU negotiators who are set to release a “package of new arrangements” aimed at reducing the Brexit checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea border.


Jersey gives French fishermen another extension over post-Brexit fishing dispute

In May serious rows between French fishermen and the Jersey Government broke out after new Brexit regulations required fishermen to apply for a permit to trawl in Jersey waters.

The Government of Jersey then said that in “a sign of good faith”, the interim arrangements, which allow EU vessels time to provide the evidence needed to support their license applications, were extended from 30 April 2021 to 1 July 2021. However, Jersey has agreed to extend the deadline further to the end of September after the EU’s request.

Jersey, the UK, France and EU officials are currently in discussions over a new Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) which requires evidence of the "extent and nature" of fishing activity in Jersey waters in order to grant access (BBC News).

Minister for External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst, said, “We know aspects of [the France/Jersey] relationship have been difficult recently, but want to ensure we work through the issues, fulfilling the terms of the TCA and ensuring the sustainability of fishing in our waters”.


New Subsidy Control Bill supports UK jobs and businesses

A new UK-wide subsidy control system will provide quicker and more flexible support to UK businesses following our departure from the UK, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy says. The Subsidy Control Bill introduced to Parliament on 30 June will replace EU state aid rules that require its members to seek approval for government support for business (The Guardian).

UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said, “We want to use our newfound freedoms as an independent, sovereign country to empower public authorities across the UK to deliver financial support - without facing burdensome red tape.”


EU rules UK data protection standards as “adequate”

The UK has joined the list of only 12 countries on the EU adequacy list for data protection standards. After more than a year of constructive talks post-Brexit, the EU has formally recognised the UK’s high data protection standards (GOV.UK). This means that UK businesses can continue to receive personal data from the EU and EEA following the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Law Enforcement Directive (LED).

However, EU officials have made it clear that this decision could be revoked “immediately” if at any point the UK deviates from the level of protection approved by the EU. Furthermore, the decision includes a “sunset clause”, meaning the adequacy decision runs out after four years and will be subject to review.

The Department for International Trade has provided guidance for EU businesses on what they need to do with data protection, intellectual property and copyright in the UK.

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