EU news – Post date: June 11th, 2020.

EC Regulations: Updates

Electronic certifications

The European Commission has issued Implementing Regulation 2020/714 as regards the use of electronic documentation for the performance of official controls and other official activities and the period of application of temporary measures. The regulation provides that:

  • Official controls may be performed on a copy of the original certificate
  • Official controls may be performed on electronic data submitted via TRACES.

“In order to ensure smooth trade, it should be clarified that official controls and other official activities may be performed on a copy of the original certificates or attestations, which has been provided by certain electronic means. In addition, it should be clarified that the obligation to provide the original of those documents as soon as technically feasible does not apply where official controls and other official activities are performed based on electronic data produced and submitted in the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES).”
The regulation applies as of 1 June 2020 and continues to apply until 1 August 2020.

Port infrastructure charges

The European Commission is allowing flexibility on levying port infrastructure charges in the context of the Covid-19 outbreak. The EC has issued Regulation 2020/697 to allow managing ports or the related competent authority to provide flexibility in respect of levying port infrastructure charges in the context of the Covid-19 outbreak. The new regulation allows ports or managing competent authorities to waive, suspend, reduce or defer the payment of port infrastructure charges due for the period from 1 March 2020 to 31 October 2021.

Air freight rules

The European Commission has published Regulation 2020/796 amending Regulation 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Commission has adopted a provision for emergency prolongation of air carrier licences; provisions for continuous monitoring of the situation; and provisions allowing Member States to limit or impose exercise of traffic rights if necessary, to address the Covid-19 pandemic. The sector is called upon to carefully monitor national measures taken for air traffic, as this may affect the recovery of business procedures for the upcoming months.

Deadline extended – Online public consultation on the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP)

The European Union’s GSP removes import duties from products coming into the EU market from vulnerable developing countries. This helps developing countries to alleviate poverty and create jobs based on international values and principles, including labour and human rights. Exports to the EU from developing countries using special tariffs under the EU GSP reached a new high of €69 billion in 2018. The purpose of the consultation is to gather input to the Commission’s work to prepare a future proposal to the Council and Parliament for a regulation to replace the current GSP Regulation on its expiry on 31 December 2023. Kindly note that the new deadline for providing input is 15 July 2020.

INF System for Special Procedures

The transitional arrangements for the INF Special Procedures are replaced by an electronic system as from June 2020. The standardised exchange of information system (INF) for inward and outward processing procedures is operational to all Members States and Traders. The main objective of the INF SP System is to make all INF data available and to streamline the processes of INF data management. The INF SP is a trans-European system that ensures the administrative and standardised exchange of information between economic operators and customs authorities, and between customs authorities themselves involved during the customs procedures of inward and outward processing. The EU has provided a Business User Guide.

European Commission: impact of coronavirus on EU trade

The European Commission has published its second report on the impact of coronavirus on EU trade. According to updated Commission estimates, the coronavirus pandemic will result in a decrease in global trade between 10 and 16% in 2020. For the EU27, the predicted reduction is expected to be between 9 and 15% for exports, and between 11 and 14% for imports from non-EU countries (goods and services combined). The increasing spread of the virus has prompted many countries to temporarily shut down businesses, and restrict travel and the movement of people. These measures will lead to sharp contractions in the level of economic output, household spending, investment and international trade.

Other European news

Ceres2030: How are African governments responding to avert a Covid-19 hunger crisis?
On 10 June the Ceres2030 project is holding a virtual dialogue with African ministers on how their governments are responding to try to avert a Covid-19 hunger and malnutrition crisis. Ceres2030 is a joint initiative by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Cornell University that provides the donor community with a menu of policy options for directing their investments, backed by the best available evidence and economic models.
Speakers will include:
H.E. Koutéra Noël Bataka, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Togo
H.E. Lydie Beasseamda, Minister of Production, Irrigation and Agricultural Equipment, Chad (tbc)
H.E. Thoko Didiza, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, South Africa
H.E. Sadou Seydou, Minister of Trade and Private Sector Promotion, Niger
H.E. Vincent Ssempijja, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Uganda
The 90-minute webinar will take place on 10 June at 3 pm CET.
Simultaneous translation into English and French will be available.
Register here.

Food security: Covid-19 and global supply chains

On 8 June, Belgian sustainability network The Shift held a virtual discussion on food security and global supply chains in times of Covid-19. You can watch the webinar here. According to the Global Report on Food Crises, a partnership of 16 organisations, in 2019 the number of persons suffering from an acute food crisis or worse was the highest in the past four years at 135 million. The Covid-19 pandemic and the associated recession have exacerbated this and disrupted global supply chains, reinvigorating a debate about the resilience of the globalised food system and the desirability of food sovereignty. To prevent the worst impacts of the current crises on food supply across the planet, and to increase the resilience and sustainability of the food system, all actors need to coordinate along a set of operational and strategic priorities. This discussion aimed to identify the priorities and opportunities for collaboration.

If it’s not safe, it’s not food

FoodDrinkEurope, which represents Europe’s food and drink manufacturing industry, sees the European Commission’s recently published Farm to Fork Strategy as a positive step towards a common EU food policy, and is calling for a structured dialogue with stakeholders, alongside systematic impact assessments, to mitigate any unintended consequences (4 June). For example, the need to reduce excess packaging must be contingent on an impact assessment to maintain Europe’s continued high food safety standards, as well as to avoid any increase in food waste. We also need to consider food safety in the future: climate change is associated with altering geographic occurrence and prevalence of food safety hazards, and new consumer trends can lead to increased food safety risks.

According to the World Health Organization, 600 million people fall ill and 420,000 die globally every year after eating contaminated food. FoodDrinkEurope emphasises that safe food is not just critical for public health, but is also vital for food security, economic development and trade, and collaboration all along the supply chain is essential. In the EU, the food safety legislation sets key obligations for food business operators. Preventive controls address most food safety problems, and systems like HACCP are in place to identify, evaluate and control hazards that are significant for food safety.

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