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Committee reports on application of quotas and continuation of EU firearms laws under the Northern Ireland Protocol

30 September 2020

In its latest report, the European Scrutiny Committee considers recent draft EU legislation and policy documents deposited in Parliament by the Government.

Each document is accompanied by an Explanatory Memorandum from the relevant Minister. The Committee examines the legal and political importance of the document and where appropriate asks further questions of the Government about its implications. The Committee also has the power to recommend documents for debate.

In its latest report, the Committee highlights the importance of several documents, and how it intends to follow up with Government. These include:

Department for International Trade – Northern Ireland Protocol: application of tariff rate quotas and other import quotas

Important because:

  • The document - a proposed Regulation - concerns the operation of the Northern Ireland Protocol when the post-exit transition period ends on 31 December 2020.
  • The proposal recognises that Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK’s customs territory at the end of the t transition period.
  • It also states that EU tariff rate quotas (allowing certain goods to be imported at a lower than normal tariff) and other EU import quotas will only apply to goods imported by the EU’s 27 Member States, and not Northern Ireland, even though EU customs law will continue to apply in Northern Ireland.

In correspondence to the Committee, the Government says that Northern Ireland businesses will benefit from preferential tariffs in the same way as the rest of the UK and that nothing in the proposed regulation will alter the Government’s approach, as set out in its Command Paper on the Northern Ireland Protocol, published in May 2020.The Government adds, however, that the full implications of the proposed Regulation for UK trade will not be known until the wider negotiations on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol have concluded.

The Committee has written to the Minister, requesting further detail on Joint Committee discussions on the implementation of the Protocol and the Government’s assessment of the trade implications of the proposed Regulation, as well the views of the Devolved Administrations.

Home Office – Northern Ireland Protocol: continued application of EU firearms laws

Important because:

  • The EU Action Plan on Firearms Trafficking calls for the effective implementation of the EU Firearms Directive, a measure which will continue to apply in Northern Ireland after the end of the post-Brexit transition period, under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
  • It gives rise to questions about the Government’s policy on regulatory alignment or divergence across the UK’s different legal jurisdictions after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020.

In correspondence with the Committee, the Minister for Security, James Brokenshire MP, says the proposal broadly aligns with the UK’s priorities. However, the Committee’s report identifies a number of issues on which it is seeking further information from the Government. These concern the compliance of UK domestic law with the Directive, the risk of divergence in the firearms laws applicable in different parts of the UK after transition, and the implications of the Directive for cross-border law enforcement on the island of Ireland.

Further information

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