Regulation Round-Up - May 2020

Phase roll-out for EHC Online 

You may be aware that the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Defra have been developing a new system which allows for the application and certification of Export Health Certificates (EHCs) through a more digital route. The new system is known as EHC Online and Defra are currently rolling this out in a phased way.

By winter of 2020, EHC Online will have replaced the current process known as Fishpoint, which requires certificates to be downloaded, filled in manually and sent to APHA via email.

The new service allows exporters to fully apply for, complete, and submit the EHC online, and allows certifiers to then check and approve the application - making the process more efficient and seamless.

Whilst EHC Online does not remove the need for a certifying officer’s (official vet or EHO) signature it does provide a number of efficiencies for certifying officers by allowing them to:

  • View their certification workload on an online dashboard 
  • Review, approve or reject applications using EHC Online
  • No longer need to send a copy of the certificate back to APHA 
  • Work on the go - EHC Online is tablet compatible

Over 100 EHCs have been developed to go onto the system first, and a number of these are certificates within the fish and seafood sectors. Defra are encouraging exporters and certifiers of the following forms to register onto EHC Online and begin to utilise it from now.




Fish/seafood/their Products Processing premises must be approved to Eurasian Economic Union (currently used for Belarus and Kazakhstan only)


Live Aquatic Animals excluding Bi-Valve Molluscs for human consumption to China


Fishery Products for human Consumption to China


Live Aquatic Animals - Bi-Valve Molluscs Only - for human consumption to China

If you have received registration information Defra would encourage you to sign up to EHC Online to familiarise yourselves with the service and the significant benefits it provides to the certification process for fish.

If you export/certify the EHCs listed above and have either not received registration information, or would like further details or support, please email  

UK and US open talks on reaching a trade agreement

Official negotiations with America have begun in an effort to reach a post-Brexit UK-US trade deal.

The UK delegation is led by Oliver Griffiths, a senior trade official at the Department for International Trade, and comprises 100 negotiators. The first round will cover trade in goods and services, digital trade, two-way investment and support for SMEs. The Secretary of State for International Trae Liz Truss said the aim of the bilateral trade agreement was to open up new markets for UK businesses, bring increased investment and create jobs throughout the country.

Both sides have stipulated a strong desire to make progress towards a deal as soon as possible. To view the Secretary of State for International Trade’s opening statement click here.


EU signals 'limited proress' in bilateral negotations towards a trade deal

UK and EU officials conducted the latest round of bilateral negotiations via some forty teleconferences in lieu of face-to-face discussions, owing to the covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking in Brussels after the talks concluded, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier judged that progress remained ‘limited’ toward securing a post-Brexit trading relationship, warning ‘the clock is ticking’.

Barnier said a joint decision must be reached by June on whether to extend the transition period – currently fixed until 31 December 2020 – given discussions needed to ‘move forward in a constructive fashion’ in order to ‘strike an agreement which is commensurate to the level of our economic interdependence and geographical proximity’. Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently affirmed his government’s position that no extension beyond this date would be considered, given it would ‘prolong the delay and uncertainty’ for UK businesses.

Barnier asserted that a current inability for the sides to agree on fisheries, justice and a level playing field were hampering progress towards a trade deal. In response, a UK government spokesperson insisted that while the UK wished to ‘keep on talking’ certain EU proposals for a deal were ‘unprecedented’, thereby presenting ‘significant differences of principle’.

However, ‘promising convergence’ was confirmed in areas of negotiation including goods and services, and energy and transport. The UK government reiterated it sought a ‘deal with a FTA at its core’ and hoped that further progress could be achieved at the next negotiating round, scheduled for the week commencing 11 May.

First Northern Ireland/Ireland Protocol Specialised Committee meeting ‘constructive’

The UK and EU jointly held the first Specialised Committee meeting on the implementation and application of the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland by videoconference.

The Specialised Committee comprises one of the six Specialised Committees established under Article 165 of the Withdrawal Agreement, with an obligation to facilitate the implementation and application of this Protocol, and to make recommendations to the Joint Committee as regards the functioning of this Protocol.

An EU press release described the bilateral talks as ‘constructive’, particularly in regard to the work on preparing the agenda for the Joint Committee on the decisions that needed to be taken prior to the close of the transition period. The Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland is applicable from 1 January 2021.

The Commission concluded that given ‘time is short’ the UK should move swiftly to release a timetable on implementation measures, and ‘…remain ready to work with the UK to ensure the Protocol can be applied in full’ from 1 January 2021.