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Written Statement: Inter-Ministerial Group Environment, Food and Rural Affairs meeting, 14 September 2020

I chaired the Inter-Ministerial Group for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (IMG) on 14 September 2020.

We discussed the need for unfettered access for goods originating in Northern Ireland into GB, whilst ensuring EU goods transiting NI into GB are subject to appropriate controls.  We agreed on the need to decide urgently how to distinguish between qualifying and non-qualifying goods to ensure unfettered access for qualifying goods.

We discussed border preparedness.  Defra officials introduced a paper on border checks, proposing administrative requirements to be introduced from April 2021 and targeted risk based checks from July 2021.  We all agreed the principles of the paper, however I emphasised the need for greater engagement between UK Government and the devolved administrations to facilitate a more joined-up approach in the future.

We also discussed the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill where, along with Scottish Ministers, I stressed deep concerns regarding the Bill and its effects on devolution and the work underway on common frameworks. I insisted frameworks had been designed to help understand and manage divergence between the four administrations, and therefore the Bill was unnecessary.

We reviewed the progress of the secondary legislation work programme.

A communiqué regarding this meetings can be found on the UK Government website. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/communique-from-the-inter-ministerial-group-for-environment-food-and-rural-affairs.

The next meeting will take place on 26 October.

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