The UK government has named 24 devolved areas where it wants to temporarily retain power following Brexit.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland might have expected a number of subjects to come under their control when the UK leaves the EU.
However, ministers are bidding to oversee things like food labelling and animal welfare.
The Scottish government has accused the UK government of a power grab and introduced its own legislation.
Ministers at Westminster insist that “the vast majority of powers returning from Brussels will start off in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast”.
Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, who is conducting talks with the devolved governments, said: “There is a much smaller group of powers where the devolved governments will be required to follow current EU laws for a little bit longer while we work out a new UK approach.”
The 24 policy areas expected to require a UK legislative approach for a temporary period include:
- Animal health and traceability
- Food and feed safety and hygiene law
- Food labelling
- Chemical regulation
Mr Lidington told BBC Scotland that if these policy areas did not return to Westminster then there would be a loss of jobs and “probably a higher price for consumers”.
He explained: “What will not help either customers or producers is to have different sets of food labelling or food hygiene or safety regulations in different parts of the UK.
“All that does is add to costs, loss of jobs amongst producers and it leads to less choice, probably a higher price for consumers.
“The same applies with manufacturers, if you’re a paint manufacturer in Wales you’ve got to stick to some chemical standards in producing your paint, but you want those to be the same as the paint standards in Scotland or Northern Ireland because you are a customer there. It just makes sense that we do so much trade in internal borders in the UK that we have a set of common sense rules agreed.
“I hope between the different governments, laid out in legislation, that means producers and consumers will benefit.”
‘This is a major power grab’
First Ministers Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones are due to hold talks with the prime minister next week.
Both the Scottish and Welsh governments have produced plans for continuity bills as a fallback option to deal with legal uncertainties caused by Brexit if they cannot agree to consent to the UK government’s legislation.
Responding to the publication, Holyrood’s Brexit minister Mike Russell said: “This list simply confirms the UK government’s plans for a power grab.
“Under the EU Withdrawal Bill the UK will have the right to take control of any of the powers on this list.
“However, the publication of the categories demonstrates the threat is most immediate in key devolved areas such as agriculture, GM crops, fishing, environmental policy, public procurement, food standards and a range of other areas.
“Unless the bill is changed Westminster could soon be in control of these policies amounting to a major power grab and a re-writing of the devolution settlement the people of Scotland voted for so decisively.”
What are the 24 devolved policy areas?
Agricultural support – Policies and regulations relating to income, market support, agriculture, productivity and maintenance grants.
Agriculture, fertiliser regulations – Common standards for compositional ingredients, labelling, packaging, sampling and analysis of fertilisers.
Agriculture, GMO marketing and cultivation – Standards for marketing and cultivation of genetically modified organisms.
Agriculture, organic farming – Regulations setting out standards for organic production certification.
Agriculture, zootech – Rules on breeding and trade in pedigree animals and germinal products in the EU and the treatment of imports from third countries.
Animal health and traceability – EU rules and standards that aim to maintain animal health and allow their movement, including policies covering prevention of disease, control of disease surveillance movement of livestock, pet passports and veterinary medicines.
Animal welfare – On-farm issues, movement of livestock and slaughter.
Chemicals regulation (including pesticides) – Classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures; the placing on the market and use of biocidal products; the export and import of hazardous chemicals; the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals and plant protection products.
Elements of reciprocal healthcare
Environmental quality, chemicals – Regulation of the manufacture, authorisation and sale and use of chemical products .
Environmental quality, ozone depleting, substances and F-gases – The UK has international obligations under the Montreal Protocol to phase out the use of ODS, phase down hydrofluorocarbons by 85% by 2036, licence imports and exports and report on usage to the UN.
Environmental quality, pesticides – Regulations governing the authorisation and use of pesticide products and the maximum residue levels in food, and a framework for action on sustainable use of pesticides.
Environmental quality, waste packaging and product regulations – Product standards including for packaging (e.g. ROHS in Electrical and Electronic Equipment, Batteries and Vehicles) in order to manage waste.
Fisheries management and support – Rules relating to the sustainability of fisheries (quotas), access to waters, conservation measures, enforcement and financial support.
Food and feed safety and hygiene law – Food and feed safety and hygiene; food and feed law enforcement (official controls); food safety labelling; risk analysis; and incident handling.
Food compositional standards – Minimum standards for a range of specific food commodities such as sugars, coffee, honey, caseins, condensed milk, chocolate, jams, fruit juices and bottled water.
Food labelling – Requirements on provision of information to consumers on food labels.
Hazardous substances planning – Land-use planning, including: planning controls relating to the storage of hazardous substances and handling development proposals for hazardous establishments.
Implementation of EU Emissions Trading System – This directive area establishes the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme for greenhouse gas. The Scheme sets a maximum amount of greenhouse gas that can be emitted by all participating installations and aircrafts; these operators then monitor, verify and report their emissions, and must surrender allowances equivalent to their emissions annually.
Mutual recognition of professional qualifications – Directives that create systems for the recognition for professional qualifications and professional experience throughout the EU. Allowing EU professionals to work in regulated professions in other EU states on either a permanent or temporary basis.
Nutrition health claims, composition and labelling – Nutrition and health claims made on food; food for special medical purposes and weight control; food intended for infants; the addition of vitamins and other substances to food; and food supplements.
Plant health, seeds and propagating material – Import and internal EU movement of plants and plant products, risk assessment of new plant pests and outbreak management. Assurance and auditing of policies across the UK to protect plant biosecurity. Requirements for plant variety rights, registration of plant varieties and quality assurance of marketed seed and propagating material.
Public procurement – The regime provided by the EU procurement Directives, covering public procurement contracts for supplies, services, works and concessions above certain financial thresholds awarded by the public sector and by utilities operating in the energy, water, transport and postal services sectors.
Services Directive – Directive that seeks to realise the full potential of services markets in Europe by removing legal and administrative barriers to trade by increasing transparency and making it easier for businesses and consumers to provide or use services in the EU Single Market.