Brexit preparedness for chemical sciences
The following information summarises Government Brexit preparedness guidance for individuals and businesses and is relevant to:
• UK nationals working in the chemical sciences in the EU/EEA
• EU/EEA nationals working in the chemical sciences in the UK
• UK employers of EU/EEA nationals
• Any UK businesses dealing with chemicals regulations
Further information can be found on the Government’s website and we have hyperlinked where relevant.
The UK Government has repeatedly stated that the UK is leaving the EU on 29 March 2019 and that they are committed to leaving with a deal in place. If the draft withdrawal deal is agreed, there will be an accompanying implementation period starting on 30 March 2019, meaning the UK will still abide by EU law until 31 December 2020 and possibly beyond. In other words, most aspects of life and business processes will continue broadly as they do now, however there are some actions and points to note.
The Government says an agreed deal is still the most likely outcome but until the Withdrawal Agreement successfully passes through Parliament, the Government advises that individuals and businesses prepare for all eventualities, including ‘no deal’, and do so in good time for when the UK formally leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. The Royal Society of Chemistry recommends members follow this advice, starting with the below information.
In the event of the Withdrawal Agreement passing through Parliament
For EU nationals living in the UK
The UK Government are currently piloting their ‘EU Settlement Scheme’ where EU nationals currently living in the UK can register to ‘settled status’. You can read more information about the scheme and the Government have also said that the scheme will be fully open to all applicants by 30 March 2019, even in the event on no deal being agreed.
For Non-EU EEA nationals or Swiss nationals living in the UK
The UK has also reached an agreement with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and with Switzerland that will protect the rights of citizens from these countries living in the UK. The Government says their rights will also be protected in a no deal scenario. You can read more about this on the Government website.
The UK Government have released an Employer toolkit designed to help employers support their staff who are from an EU member state and supply them with the correct information. The toolkit includes information on the Settlement Scheme and materials to help communicate the information to staff.
For UK nationals living in the EU
The EU has urged its member states to take measures to ensure the status of all UK nationals living in their country. Within the EU, migration is a domestic policy, i.e. it is up to individual member states to decide what the policy is on non-EU citizen migration, this means there could be 27 different policies depending on which member state a UK national resides, including the scenario where the Withdrawal Agreement passes through parliament and there is a close future trading relationship.
More information is available on the UK Government’s website and UK Embassies throughout the EU have started holding meetings with UK nationals (for example information about UK nationals living in Italy), therefore it would be prudent for all UK nationals living in the EU to read this information carefully and regularly and keep in contact with their local embassy.
For UK nationals living in Non-EU EEA countries or in Switzerland
The UK Government has also reached an agreement with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and with Switzerland that will protect UK citizens’ rights in these countries. The government says their rights will also be protected in a no deal scenario. You can read more about this here.
For chemicals businesses
In the event of a deal and the establishment of an implementation period, the Health & Safety Executive have provided ‘Implementation period guidance’ targeted towards the actions businesses will need to take. This guidance provides reassurance that the processes of REACH, biocides and plant protection products regulations will continue on largely the same terms as now. However, it is important to note that the UK HSE will no longer be a lead authority for dossiers, will no longer be present in regulatory decision-making on chemicals in the EU and UK business will have to abide by the laws as set by the EU during the transition period. The deal as drafted would provide business continuity in terms of trading. However, chemicals sector businesses may have data sharing issues to resolve, which we have raised in our evidence to the House of Lords EU Exit Energy & Environment Committee.
In the event of 'No deal'
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the UK government will underwrite current grants held by UK participants in EU research and innovation funding programmes, including Horizon 2020 and ongoing Framework 7 programmes, to ensure these projects can continue.If you are based in the UK and are currently in receipt of EU research and innovation funding, register your details on the dedicated online portal.This will enable UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to keep you informed of the next steps in implementing underwrite payments if the UK does leave the EU without a deal. For more information, visit the UKRI website.
The UK Government have published guidance on citizens’ rights in the event of no deal, outlining the rights of EU nationals in the UK (and UK nationals in the EU) in the event that no deal is agreed between the UK and EU by the leave date. The UK Government has said:
To remove any ambiguity, the UK Government guarantees that EU citizens resident in the UK by 29 March 2019 will be able to stay and we will take the necessary steps to protect their rights even in a unlikely ‘no deal’ scenario.
You can read the UK government’s full guidance here.
The UK Government have already stated that, regardless of whether or not there is a deal, the EU Settlement Scheme will be fully open before the UK leaves the EU. Please see above for more details.
For UK nationals living in the EU
Within the EU, migration is a domestic policy, i.e. it is up to individual member states to decide what the policy is on non-EU citizen migration. Therefore the European Commission (EC) have said:
Today's Communication invites Member States to take a generous approach to the rights of UK citizens in the EU, provided that this approach is reciprocated by the UK.
In particular, Member States should take measures to ensure that UK citizens legally residing in the EU on the date of withdrawal will continue to be considered legal residents. Member States should adopt a pragmatic approach to granting temporary residence status. It is recalled that the Commission has already adopted a proposal for a Regulation which exempts UK nationals from visa requirements, provided that all EU citizens are equally exempt from UK visa requirements.
You can read the UK Government’s full guidance here and the EC’s full guidance here.
EU nationals coming to the UK after 29 March 2019
Those coming to the UK after the UK formally leaves the EU without a deal and plan to stay longer than 3 months will need to apply for leave to remain within three months of arrival. Leave to remain may be granted for up to 36 months. Though details are limited at this stage, you can read current Government guidance on their website.
For all UK nationals travelling to the EU
You can read the UK’s guidance on ‘Travelling to the EU with a UK passport if there’s no Brexit deal’.
You can also read the UK’s guidance on ‘Travelling in the Common Travel Area if there’s no Brexit deal’. The Common Travel Area consists of the UK, its Crown Dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man) and Ireland.
Health & Safety Executive publish further detailed guidance to help with ‘no deal’ contingency planning for chemicals regulation
In the event of ‘no deal’ on 29 March 2019, the Health & Safety Executive have published further detailed technical guidance in November that could be business critical for some in our community. This includes various scenarios that businesses and innovators may find themselves in regarding their obligations under new chemicals regulation. In a no deal Brexit, the UK will implement a national UK REACH system and there are actions with key dates that businesses and individuals will need to consider in order to remain compliant with both UK and EU chemicals regulatory regimes. All of the relevant information is on the HSE website.
How The Royal Society of Chemistry can help
The RSC are committed to supporting its members through these preparations. We hope the above information covers key eventualities and we will update this page as circumstances develop and we are aware of new information.
For those from the EU living and working in the UK, your first port of call should always be your employer who will be best able to advise on individual cases. However, there may be some queries that are not answered by your employer or the government advice. In this situation, the RSC Chemists’ Community Fund may be able to help you.
The Chemist's Community Fund are supporting a webinar – for members of the Royal Society of Chemisty – about the support available for EU nationals living in the UK.
For UK nationals living in the EU, we will update this page as and when we are aware of new information but it will also be important for you to keep in touch with your employer and local embassy as well as regularly checking the UK Government information pages.
For businesses and those working in the chemicals sector, all enquiries and information regarding the changes to chemicals regulations, should be directed to the Health & Safety Executive for the most up to date advice from government. The decisions you may need to make may be very specific to your circumstances.