News

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 14 October 2021

Media Coverage

EU prepares to curb power of judges under revised Brexit deal
The Times, Bruno Waterfield and Oliver Wright, 14 October 2021

The Times reports that the EU’s chief negotiator yesterday outlined proposals to sweep away the majority of checks on goods crossing from Britain to the province under a revised Northern Ireland Protocol.

The EU proposal on medicines outlines a new regulatory landscape where pharmaceutical companies in Britain, when supplying the Northern Irish market, “can keep all their regulatory functions where they are currently located”. This means that Britain can continue acting as a hub for the supply of generic medicines to Ireland and UK medicines can be prescribed in the province.

The UK has previously suggested that all medicines from the Protocol be removed, and questions remains especially with regards to the provision of new cancer drugs or treatments to individuals that are approved in Britain but face hurdles in Northern Ireland.

This was also reported on BBC News and in the Telegraph.

The full EU proposal on medicines can be read here.

 

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today. 


Full Coverage

EU prepares to curb power of judges under revised Brexit deal
The Times, Bruno Waterfield and Oliver Wright, 14 October 2021

The EU is open to a compromise deal that would limit the role of European judges in Northern Ireland in an effort to remove the last significant hurdle to a new Brexit agreement.

Yesterday the EU’s chief negotiator outlined proposals to sweep away the majority of checks on goods crossing from Britain to the province under a revised Northern Ireland protocol.

The plans were farther reaching than had been anticipated by ministers in London, with government figures describing them as encouraging.

Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s negotiator, said that he hoped they would set the two sides on the “home stretch”.

In an attempt to bridge the remaining gaps, The Times understands that the EU is considering a move to restrict the role of Europe’s highest court from the policing of the agreement.

Disputes would go to an independent arbitration panel, with the European Court of Justice asked to interpret narrow matters of EU law as a last resort after dispute resolution has failed. Under the present agreement the commission rules on disputes and if the government does not comply it refers the case directly to the court as an “infringement”.

Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, has already called for a disputes panel to be set up and the hope is that such a model may prove enough to get the deal over the line, despite London’s insistence that the European Court of Justice have no role at all in policing the protocol.

Face-to-face talks between Frost and Sefcovic are due to begin in Brussels in the coming days. The EU stressed that the new proposal did not amount to a “take it or leave it” offer.

“We have put a lot of hard work into this package, explored every possible angle of the protocol, and at times went beyond current EU law,” Sefcovic said. “In effect we are proposing an alternative model for implementation of the protocol.”

A government source said: “From what we have seen so far it looks encouraging. The proposals so far look fairly hopeful and certainly worthy of discussion.”

Goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland would be subject to about 50 per cent less paperwork while many of the restrictions and checks on British food sold there would be lifted.

The EU is also proposing lifting restrictions on UK medicines being prescribed in the province and establishing a consultative role for Northern Irish institutions in the implementation of the agreement. However, Sefcovic failed to persuade the commission to lift restrictions on pets travelling to Northern Ireland without a costly animal health certificate. This is likely to be subject to further negotiations.

Micheal Martin, the Irish prime minister, described the EU plans as “the obvious way forward” and said that the commission had demonstrated “imagination, innovation, and a listening ear to the people in Northern Ireland”.

The DUP said that they fell “far short of the fundamental change needed”.

A British government spokesman said: “We will look at the proposal seriously and constructively. The next step should be intensive talks on both our sets of proposals, rapidly conducted, to determine whether there is common ground to find a solution.”

Devil in the detail of attempt to solve Northern Ireland protocol
Since it came into operation almost a year ago, the EU has insisted the Northern Ireland protocol was not open for renegotiation. But yesterday, in four papers, Brussels set out proposals that could alter the arrangements and open the door to solving the most intractable of the Brexit problems. What has the EU proposed, how does it stack up against the UK’s demands and how likely does a compromise look?

Customs formalities
EU proposal:
 The EU’s plan suggests it would “cut in half” the documentation needed to move goods between Britain to Northern Ireland. There would be an “express lane” for lorries entering the province with goods not destined for the Republic of Ireland, with minimal forms to fill in. The UK would commit itself to “providing full and real-time access” to its customs systems as well as undertaking “appropriate monitoring and enforcement measures”.

UK position: It would be the responsibility of UK traders moving goods to Northern Ireland to declare whether they were destined for the North or the Republic. Full customs formalities would be required for goods going to the South and the UK would undertake to enforce them. Other goods would not require customs processes. Ministers say the system would be policed on a “risk-based and intelligence led basis”.

Landing zone: The outcome looks positive.

Food and plants checks
EU proposal:
 The plan would set up “a Northern Ireland-specific solution” to reduce the need for checks on food from the UK. This would allow supermarket lorries to submit one form per load, rather than one per product. Goods must have packaging and labelling indicating they are for “UK only” sale. This will allow sales of “prohibited goods” from countries outside the EU, such as the UK, including sausages and lasagne and also garden plants if they cannot be sourced in the EU or Ireland. The EU says the UK must monitor supply chains to stop imports from South America, Africa or Asia.

UK position: Ministers suggest that food for Northern Ireland should broadly follow the same procedure as goods. The UK would perform the EU food safety checks on goods destined for the EU — and the system would be policed by sharing information between the UK and Ireland.

Landing zone: It could be close. The EU proposals go some way to creating a dual regulatory system for Northern Ireland with goods circulating under both European and British standards.

Medicines
EU proposal:
 The European Commission sees this as the biggest concession. It will mean that pharmaceutical companies in Britain — when supplying the Northern Irish market — “can keep all their regulatory functions where they are currently located”. This means Britain can continue acting as a hub for the supply of generic medicines for Northern Ireland.

UK position: The UK has suggested that the simplest solution is to remove all medicines from the protocol.

Landing zone: The devil will be in the detail, especially on the provision of new cancer drugs or treatments to individuals that are approved in Britain but face hurdles in Northern Ireland.

Pets
EU proposal:
 This was a key area where the EU has refused to make concessions on risk grounds despite Britain not having a case of rabies since 1922. It is demanding that any pet crossing to Northern Ireland have a health certificate issued by a vet at a cost of more than £100.

UK position: The UK says that pets that meet legal requirements such as microchipping should be able to move.

Landing zone: The EU’s lead negotiator, Maros Sefcovic, is frustrated that the concession was not made by the Brussels bureaucracy.

Governance
EU proposal:
 It wants “structured dialogues between Northern Ireland stakeholders and the commission”. People will be “invited to attend some meetings of the specialised committees” that work on the protocol.

UK position: It says it will not agree to any protocol that does not remove the European Court of Justice as final arbiter of laws in the province.

Landing zone: The EU has kept the door open to a solution and the UK has not threatened to strip the court out of the protocol.

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 14 October 2021

From Factory to Pharmacy

As part of our mission to build awareness, understanding and appreciation of the vital importance of the healthcare distribution sector, we developed an infographic explaining the availability of medicines. It identifies the factors that can impact drug supply, as well as the measures that HDA members undertake day in, day out to help mitigate the risks of patients not receiving their medicines.

See the Infographic

Apply to become a Member

Membership of the HDA guarantees your organisation:

  • Access to leading policy and industry forums of debate and discussion
  • Invitations to a range of networking industry events organised through the year, including an Annual Conference and a Business Day
  • Representation on HDA working parties, including the Members’ Liaison Group
  • A daily Political and Media Bulletin and HDA Newsletters
  • Access to HDA policy documents and all sections of the HDA website
  • Branding and marketing opportunities
Apply Now

Already a Member?