Brexit: Jeremy Vine says EU is looking to 'waterboard' UK
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The Commons EU Scrutiny Committee has warned that the red tape could mean British-built machinery is blocked from entering the region. Under the regulation being drawn up by the European Commission, all mechanical equipment must win EU approval before it can be sold across the bloc. The committee said this would also have to be enforced in Northern Ireland as a result of the Brexit deal’s protocol to avoid a hard border.
It raised the prospect of a fresh scrap over the border fix unless Downing Street opts not to align to the EU’s standards.
Worried MPs say the new regime could see Northern Ireland cut further adrift from the mainland.
It comes as No10 are Brussels are set to agree a three-month ceasefire to end the Brexit sausage wars tomorrow.
The row over the sale of burgers and sausages has plunged cross-Channel relations to a new low and sparked Unionists protests.
To keep the Irish border open, the area effectively remains part of the EU’s single market and checks are now made on some products arriving from the rest of the UK.
Sir Bill Cash, chairman of the EU Scrutiny Committee, said: “The new proposals have the potential to significantly impact trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, and UK exports to Europe.
“Extra costs for testing are likely to mean a drag on businesses’ bottom line or higher prices for consumers. Given the consequences of the proposals, we’re calling on the Government to outline their position as soon as possible.”
Under the EU’s current “Machinery Directive”, safety checks are carried out in-house by manufacturers, as long as they comply with the bloc’s standards.
But the new proposals will mean that firms must have their “high risk” products independently checked by EU-approved regulators.
Everything from lawn mowers and industrial robots used to build cars to increasingly everyday items like 3D printers and drones will be impacted by the changes.
Britain’s lawn mower market is set to be worth more than £2billion by 2024.
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The red tape will place a significant financial burden on Britain’s machinery exports.
Shipments from the UK to EU worth some £9billion a year will be hit by Brussels’ latest attempt to toughen its product safety rules.
The new EU proposals are expected to enter into force in 2024, which still need to be signed off by member states and MEPs.
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The powerful EU Scrutiny Committee said: “The new proposals, which could be in place by 2024, would require all high-risk machinery products to have these independent checks carried out before entering the European market. This could place a significant financial and administrative burden on machinery manufacturers exporting to the EU and their supply chains. The proposals would also change the EU’s specific safety requirements for different types of goods.
“Another potential UK/EU flashpoint would come across the Irish Sea, according to the Report. Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, a compromise allowing for an open border on the island of Ireland, Northern Ireland has to follow EU regulations over a raft of goods including mechanical goods. All goods produced in or imported into Northern Ireland must abide by these rules, even where brought in from or destined for England, Scotland or Wales.
“While this is not a problem while EU and UK rules remain the same, when they are not, they drive a complex regulatory wedge between two parts of the UK. Goods built in Great Britain to British standards could be blocked from entering NI if they do not meet the new EU regulatory standards.”
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