Inter-Ministerial Group for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: April 2023

Minutes from the inter-ministerial group meeting (EFRA) on 17 April 2023.

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Attendees and apologies

  • Mark Spencer MP, Minister for Food, Farming and Fisheries 
  • Alister Jack MP, Secretary of State for Scotland 
  • James Davies MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales all from the UK Government
  • Mairi Gougeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands, from the Scottish Government
  • Lorna Slater MSP, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, from the Scottish Government 
  • Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Rural Affairs, North Wales and Trefnydd, from the Welsh Government
  • Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change, from the Welsh Government
  • Norman Fulton, Deputy Secretary at the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, attended on behalf of the Northern Ireland Civil Service


  • Secretary of State

Items and actions

The Inter-Ministerial Group for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (IMG EFRA) met on Monday 17 April 2023 by video conference. 

The meeting was chaired by Mark Spencer MP, Minister for Food, Farming and Fisheries. 

In the absence of Northern Ireland ministers, Norman Fulton, Deputy Secretary at the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, attended on behalf of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.  

The meeting opened with a discussion on Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme. Scottish Ministers provided an update ahead of the launch and expressed disappointment on the absence of a UK Government decision on an exclusion for DRS from the Internal Market Act. Scottish Ministers pressed UK Government Ministers on a timeline for a decision to support business certainty and readiness. Ministers noted that there has been good engagement between Defra and the Scottish Government through the Resources and Waste Common Framework. UK Government Ministers requested additional information relating to business impacts to support further consideration of the proposed exclusion. 

The next item discussed was the Retained EU Law (REUL) Bill. Minister Spencer thanked the devolved governments for their work and the positive collaboration that has taken place at technical and official levels. Ministers noted that there was agreement over proposals for the vast majority of REUL and agreed that further analysis and stakeholder engagement would be beneficial to delivery of the programme of work, alongside additional consideration of relevant secondary legislation consent procedures.  

The group then discussed recent food supply issues, with particular emphasis on intelligence sharing and joint engagement with stakeholders in order to identify potential emerging issues as quickly as possible, and engagement on how to mitigate issues going forwards. It was also agreed that there was a need to ensure when such issues arose in the future that appropriate and proportionate processes for coordination were established.  

The last substantive item discussed was the Windsor Framework. The agreement with the EU is a positive outcome which will address many outstanding issues, however the group noted that further clarity on a number of issues is needed, as well as a lot of work to deliver required changes in advance of the relevant implementation deadlines.  There are several schemes applicable to EFRA sectors and Defra was in the process of setting up governance arrangements to make sure regular dialogue and joint work could take place.  

Lastly, the group briefly discussed a variety of any other business including the UK Agriculture Partnership, the UK Subsidy Control Regime, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, UK- Faroe Islands bilateral fisheries agreement and Bovine electronic identification.  

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