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Committee reports on Airbus-Boeing dispute, and UK access to firearms data

15 December 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.

Report highlights

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

DIT – WTO Airbus-Boeing dispute: application of EU retaliatory measures

Important because:

  • This implementing regulation sets out the retaliatory tariffs that the EU will impose on US goods as part of a long-running dispute on subsidies for Airbus and Boeing
  • The UK is bound to apply the tariffs until the end of the year. It is unclear whether it could continue to apply them from 1 January 2021 when the UK is represented in its own right in the World Trade Organisation
  • The implementing regulation will continue to apply in Northern Ireland under Article 5 of the Northern Ireland Protocol

The EU and United States have had a dispute over subsidies for Airbus and Boeing at the WTO for over sixteen years. This implementing regulation gives effect to an October WTO decision authorising the EU to impose additional customs duties on US goods, up to a value of $4 billion per year. The UK Government has urged both sides to reach a settlement. The Secretary of State for International Trade announced on 9 December that the Government does not intend to apply the retaliatory tariffs from 1 January 2021 "while reserving the right to impose tariffs at any point".

The implementing Regulation will, however, continue to apply in Northern Ireland to “at risk” goods – in this case, US imports affected by the retaliatory tariffs which enter Northern Ireland and are 'at risk' of continuing into the EU Single Market. The Government recently announced that it has agreed with the EU criteria for determining which goods will be considered to be 'at risk'.

The Committee has responded to the Minister, asking whether the UK would be entitled to apply the retaliatory tariffs on or after 1 January 2021, as the authorisation to do so was given to the EU as the complainant in the dispute; and whether industries in Northern Ireland face being left at a competitive disadvantage if additional duties are imposed.

HO – 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.

The Committee has previously questioned whether the UK will continue to have access to databases that govern the movement of firearms within the EU. The Minister for Security has now confirmed that the Department for International Trade has been given full access to two EU Internal Market Information systems, in order to meet its obligations under the Northern Ireland Protocol – irrespective of the outcome of future relationship negotiations.

Further information

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