Published On: Fri, Oct 30th, 2020

EU sues UK – outrageous letter demands UK plays by EU rules | Politics | News

The European Commission announced it had triggered infringement proceedings against the UK after the country failed to “comply with EU rules on Xylella fastidiosa and Certocytis platani”. Conservative politicians have previously lashed at at the EU’s insistence that the UK cannot ban plan imports on biosecurity grounds. In a monthly round-up of EU legal cases, the Commission announced it had “decided today to send a letter of formal notice to the United Kingdom for failing to comply with the EU rules concerning the plant pests Xylella fastidiosa and Certatocystis platani.

“On April 21, 2020, the UK introduced, and did not remove, amendments In the UK Statutory Instruments to the UK Official Controls Regulations 2019, which contact important restrictions regarding plan health, including Xylella fastidiosa and Certatocystis platani.

“While the EU has proportionate measures in place to protect plants from those plant pests, the UK protective measures are unjustifiably stricter than EU requirements.”

Critics suggested the EU’s legal threat is contradictory to the bloc’s demands for a level-playing field for common standards in the wrangling over a Brexit trade deal.

Former Brexit minister David Jones said: “EU complaining that UK standards are too high.

“We should be complaining about their race to the bottom.”

The UK will follow the EU's rules until the post-Brexit transition period expires on December 31.

Earlier this year, the biosecurity minister said the UK opposed the EU’s measures, and vowed to ramp up domestic protections against Xylella-risk plants such as olives and lavender.

Lord Gardiner said: “In April, Defra introduced national measures imposing stringent import requirements to protect the UK from Xylella.

“The EC reviewed the measures and, in June, published legislation requiring their revocation. We disagree with the EU’s conclusions.

“The biosecurity threat from Xylella fastidiosa remains, and therefore the reason for introducing national measures has not changed. To mitigate this, we are increasing our surveillance and industry engagement, and will keep the need for further actions under review.”

Lord Framlingham accused the Commission of trying to “bully” the UK into easing its rules.

The Conservative Peer said: “”Does he agree with me that it is quite outrageous for the EU Commission to bully us in this way, given the gravity of the situation?

“Xylella is now present in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal and on plants that have been traded in Germany and Belgium.

“It will have a devastating effect on our trees and shrubs if we fail to keep it out.”

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