Your overview of political and economic news with a focus on the food and consumer goods industry, featuring the latest developments and guidance on COVID-19, labour shortages and adapting to a new relationship with the EU.
COVID-19 – New Omicron variant
The Prime Minister announced additional temporary and precautionary measures in England in response to the discovery of the new Omicron variant in the UK. This included staff and customers in shops being required to wear face masks. This excludes hospitality settings. Further guidance on working safely during COVID-19 in England is detailed here.
The use of face masks has been mandatory for some time in Scotland for all adults and children aged 12 and over in indoor settings such as shops, hospitality venues and public transport. See further details for COVID-19 regulations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
UK-EU negotiations continuing
Lord Frost has announced that technical discussions are continuing with the EU this week regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol. He stated that he would like to “find a negotiated solution. But the gap between our positions is still significant and we are ready to use Article 16 to protect the Good Friday Agreement if other solutions cannot be found.”
Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol is the process for taking unilateral "safeguard" measures if either the EU or UK concludes that the Northern Ireland protocol is leading to serious practical problems or causing diversion of trade.
The UK government also continues negotiations with France and the EU to resolve a dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights.
EU-GB Imports from 1 January 2022
Businesses are encouraged to prepare for changes to the rules regarding imports from the EU to GB from 1 January 2022. See here for further details.
This follows publication of a revised version of the Border Operating Model. In the latest version, the introduction of physical and ID checks on incoming agri-food shipments from the EU will be phased-in over a longer period from 1 July to 1 November 2022 depending on the type of products being imported. Previously all this was planned to be completed by July 2022.
Please note that full customs declarations will be required from 1 January (although delayed payment may be possible).
See further details here including our opinion on the latest changes.
See the Key dates for UK-EU transition and support for businesses
See the guidance on trade with the UK as a business based in the EU.
UK-Norway trade deal
A new UK-Norway trading arrangements came into effect from 1 December 2021. The deal will see less red tape, lower tariffs and larger duty-free quotas for farmers, seafood and food producers. See further details here.
Bird flu update
The government has announced that UK-wide housing measures have been introduced to protect poultry and captive birds against avian flu.
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