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Supply chain impact of EU law proposals concerns MPs

29 November 2022

MPs on the European Scrutiny Committee have raised concerns that EU Single Market Emergency Instrument proposals could disrupt key supply chains and product availability in the UK if there were a Europe-wide emergency, like a new pandemic.

The proposals are intended to unify future responses to natural disasters, pandemics or other such emergencies across the block. This was a lesson learned from the Covid-19 pandemic during which member nations’ responses were inconsistent and European companies producing much-needed PPE and vaccine prioritised contracts abroad.

Under the proposals, if unamended, when a ‘red’ state of emergency is declared, orders from the EU for ‘crisis-relevant goods’ would take priority over any other commercial order from elsewhere. During such periods, the Committee’s latest analysis of EU proposals says that the UK and the EU are likely to be procuring the same items. Holding back orders from third parties, like the UK, would impact supply chains, the report said.

The legislation would also temporarily do away with the need for independent assessments that products meet safety and environmental regulations if member states are satisfied it complies with minimum requirements. This would enable essential products tackling the emergency – like PPE - to get to market quicker.

The move could mean an increased risk of products not meeting UK regulations produced under emergency measures from illegally entering the UK’s market, particularly through Northern Ireland.

The Committee has written to Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake raising these concerns and seeking an update on its own product safety review.

Further information

Image: UK Parliament/Tyler Allicock