Since leaving the European Union, the six-month mark has seen environment, health and safety (EHS) regulation amendments that have affected a range of sectors across the UK.
As Brexit Britain reaches this milestone, we summarise several key amendments in the area of importing and exporting goods, and the impact they have had on the nation thus far. With the ‘EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement’ continuing to be ironed out between both parties, we will no doubt see more adjustments over the long term. The importance of applying a system that allows you to prepare for future legislation is therefore paramount.
How has Britain responded to Brexit?
According to Focus Economics, due in part to the quick turnaround of the vaccine rollout, the UK has been growing faster in sequential terms than most of its European neighbours. In addition, UK growth prospects arguably compare favourably to those of the EU, despite the introduction of a tighter migration policy and several trade restrictions caused by the UK-EU free trade agreement.
However, it has not been plain sailing for the UK post-Brexit. A recent Institute of Directors (IoD) survey of over 650 business leaders looked at the impact of Brexit in the UK and found that:
- Approximately a third of businesses that trade with the EU have seen either a decline or loss of business since new trade barriers were introduced on January 1st
- 17% of businesses that previously traded with the EU have either temporarily or permanently stopped since the beginning of the year
- Almost a quarter of businesses that trade with the EU have relocated either some of their operations or staff
- Over a quarter of companies said that Brexit had caused difficulties in hiring staff – 17% considered this to be the case for ‘high skilled’ vacancies and 10% for ‘low skilled’ vacancies
Summarising these findings, Jonathan Geldart, Director General of the IoD, commented:
“Six months on, many businesses are still wrangling with the challenges of our new relationship with the EU. Small and medium-sized firms, in particular, are struggling to navigate new procedures around exporting and importing with the bloc, while business leaders are more broadly reporting difficulties in recruiting following an end to freedom of movement. Firms of all sizes will continue to need support to minimise the costs of adjusting to the deal, alongside clarity and direction from the government to seek out any new opportunities.”
This summary outlines the importance of preparing for new EHS laws and regulations from the outset. But how can you make preparations with minimal warning? One area that has been affected is the importing and exporting of goods.
Environmental health and safety regulations: Importing and exporting goods
Since the implementation of the trade deal, organisations have found themselves unable to send any produce to Europe or Northern Ireland with earth attached to it. In addition, seed potatoes have also been barred from being exported into the customs union.
Trade deals are being discussed between the UK and other countries. However, UK sheep and cattle farmers have warned they foresee the arrival of meat into the British market without quota or tariff. There are also concerns around industrial-scale production with less stringent standards than those required under current EU and UK regulations.
These disruptions are likely to continue when the UK introduces comprehensive import checks in 2022. This, along with a frosty relationship between the two parties amid heightened tensions from negotiating various sticking points (including the Northern Ireland protocol and fishing rights), mean that a deeper trading relationship will not happen overnight.
The government has therefore actively searched for new alliances. It was announced in early June that a trade deal had been agreed with Australia while trade negotiations with India are expected to begin in autumn 2021. In addition, the UK has formally begun talks to join the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) for an agreement that would be worth around 13% of world GDP.
We will see further amendments over the long term regarding the importing and exporting of goods. Retained EU regulations continue to be amended and brought in line with UK requirements and negotiations will continue to take place between the two parties, ensuring that conformity requirements are met on both sides. For this reason, your business must have suitable regulatory infrastructure in place and this can be supported through compliance technology.
Taking a digital approach to environmental, health and safety management
With EHS compliance software, your organisation can achieve its objectives effectively without compromising on reputation or social responsibilities. This can give your business a comprehensive digital platform for cementing EHS compliance, embedding risk-based thinking and unlocking end-to-end business visibility.
The benefits of taking an integrated digital approach to EHS management are far-reaching, and include:
- Compliance gap identification - Identify regulatory gaps with a comprehensive overview of compliance requirements.
- Global reporting - Report on regulatory compliance across multiple jurisdictions.
- Legislation and regulation access - Access up-to-date international, national and regional legislation with a single, integrated system.
- Risk identification – Identify, safeguard and respond to risks and create an environment of accountability.
- Compliance level documentation - Show your level of compliance by category and tasks that are due and overdue.
Ultimately, with the right solution, you can cut down the time, effort and cost in finding, translating and interpreting global compliance obligations.
Find out more about EHS regulation changes by reading our whitepaper on the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the amendments that have been made since Brexit.
Transitioning from EU ETS to UK ETS
Learn more about EHS regulation changes in our free white paper.Download now