In accordance with the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, a number of EU legislative acts concerning sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures apply to and in the UK in respect of Northern Ireland after the end of the transition period set out in the Withdrawal Agreement.
Accordingly, the entry into Northern Ireland from other parts of the UK of certain consignments of products of animal or plant origin, including animal food, plants for planting, machinery and vehicles for agricultural or forestry purposes and seed potatoes falls within the scope of these acts and is subject to official controls, certification requirements and prohibitions. This also applies to non-commercial movements of certain pet animals.
The UK and certain UK-based stakeholders have voiced serious concerns that the Withdrawal Agreement imposes a disproportionately high administrative burden on the entry into Northern Ireland from other parts of the UK of certain goods subject to SPS, where destined for final consumers in Northern Ireland. This would undermine the place of Northern Ireland within the UK's internal market.
On this basis, the Commission and the UK have agreed a comprehensive set of joint solutions to address everyday issues of all communities in Northern Ireland, which protect the integrity of both the EU's and the UK's internal markets. These include:
- a simplification of requirements and procedures for the entry into Northern Ireland from other parts of the UK of certain retail goods subject to SPS Union acts destined for final consumers in Northern Ireland;
- a new solution for the entry into Northern Ireland from other parts of the UK of valued products including seed potatoes, plants for planting and machinery and vehicles for agricultural or forestry purposes;
- application of UK's public health and consumer protection standards to retail goods moved to and consumed in Northern Ireland from other parts of the UK;
- simplified travel documentation for non-commercial movement of pet animals accompanying persons travelling to Northern Ireland from other parts of the UK.
These solutions would in all case foresee appropriate protection of public, animal and plant health, and safeguards for the integrity of the EU internal market.
- Agrees that the provisions of the proposed regulation are appropriately limited to the relevant policy area and that no assessment of consistency with other Union policies is necessary.
- Supports the adoption and early implementation of the proposed regulation, which ensures adequate SPS standards for a transparent, streamlined and safe supply of the market of Northern Ireland from other parts of the United Kingdom of certain agricultural goods, as well as the non‑commercial movements of pet dogs, cats and ferrets.
- Acknowledges the significant effort made to reconcile facilitation of procedures, safeguards to the integrity of the EU internal market, and the protection of public, animal and plant health.
- Urges the Commission to further clarify and provide solutions for the areas of more apparent divergence between SPS standards in the UK and the EU, in order to avoid infringements of the Single Market and discrimination against Northern Ireland citizens, consumers and businesses.
- Agrees that it is essential that the proposed regulation contains a provision that enables suspension of the specific rules by the Commission in the event of the UK's non-compliance.
- Encourages ongoing consultation with key stakeholders to help ensure timely implementation as well as monitoring for any future risks to the delivery of the objectives of the proposed regulation, in particular for SMEs compliance and related burdens.
- Recommends that the European institutions be updated periodically on the progress of implementation ahead of October 2023.