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Britain and Northern Ireland diverge on fruit packaging due to new EU proposals

New EU fruit and vegetable rules will create further differences in how fruit is sold in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, according to the European Scrutiny Committee’s latest report.

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From next year, bananas and some dried fruits sold in Northern Ireland would have to specifically state the country of origin on their packaging as part of proposed new laws that fall under the Windsor Framework. Also included are marketing standards for citrus fruits being applied to a broader range of varieties and pre-notification and conformity requirements for importers of them.

The report raised concerns that the UK Government has not consulted businesses or consumers in Northern Ireland on whether this will cause challenges for them. Sir William Cash, the Chair of the Committee, has written to Mr Spencer asking what the new requirements will cost businesses.

According to the European Commission, these proposed regulations are intended to improve food information for consumers, reduce food waste and update marketing standards. Currently, under the terms of the Windsor Framework, EU food regulations still apply to Northern Ireland.

Government Minister Mark Spencer told the Committee the divergence in fruit and vegetable standards will “have a minimal impact on businesses and consumers.”

Instead, the Government has stated it will consult external stakeholders if it decides to amend legislation in England similarly to the EU and bring food standards in line with the latest UN food standards.

In a letter to Mark Spencer, European Scrutiny Committee Chair Sir William Cash questions why the Government has not consulted Northern Ireland stakeholders on the impact of these upcoming regulatory divergences.

He also asks what assessment the Government has made of the impact of the divergence in standards for fruit and vegetables on businesses, trade and supply chains between the EU and the UK.

Also in today’s publication:

Windsor Framework: Tumble dryers

Raises concerns over a divergence of UK and EU rules regarding the Ecodesign and energy labelling of tumble dryers. Committee notes that the Government is in early stage of research on the impact of this.

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