Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs
I attended two Inter-Ministerial Group for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (IMG) meetings in quick succession in November. The first took place on 2 November (delayed from October) and the second on 16 November.
At both meetings we discussed EU replacement funding. In particular CAP replacement funding falls well short of the level expected by the Welsh Government and other devolved administrations. I made clear this was unacceptable - Wales would be worse off than if we had remained in the EU, and the approach being taken by HM Treasury disproportionately impacts on Wales. I also reiterated my disappointment at the lack of HMT representation at these meetings, which I have repeatedly asked for.
We agreed the timetable for finalising provisional frameworks to ensure they are ready for the end of the Transition Period.
We discussed other issues relating to the preparations for the end of the transition period. We agreed to continue to work together on food security, building on the work done in this area during the initial months of the Covid-19 crisis.
Concerns for the continued lack of clarity regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol and border checks were raised, and particularly the shortage of people able to complete Export Health Certificates throughout Great Britain. I raised my concerns regarding vets being occupied with avian flu and Environmental Health Officers being involved in Covid work stretching staffing in this area even more.
Defra assured us IT systems would either be in place, or contingency plans would be, to replace EU systems such as TRACES and EU REACH.
Other specific issues included concerns regarding difficulties for supermarket lorries and other businesses shipping goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain, and concerns over the complexity and burdens for produce which are shipped to Northern Ireland for processing and then back to Great Britain for sale.
I again relayed the concerns of businesses still uncertain of exactly what they should prepare for.
Communiqués regarding these Inter Ministerial Group 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 final meeting of 2020 will take place on 7 December.