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February, 09 2018

Environmental Standard-Setting & European Cooperation Bodies

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Posted by Rosie Oliver at 11:07

We're delighted to have launched two more reports in our Brexit and Environmental Law series.

The first, The UK and European Cooperation Bodies examines the implications of Brexit on the UK’s future involvement in a range of European cooperation bodies, networks and agencies relevant to environmental law.

The report identifies I8 bodies, networks and agencies that the UK currently participates in. These range from the European Environment Agency established under EU legislation to more informal networks of national experts such as the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment. The report considers those which the UK could legally remain a member of after Brexit, and those where some form of associate membership could be sought. It ranks by priority the bodies that UKELA considers the UK Government should prioritise during its Brexit negotiations.

The report includes a systematic analysis of the detailed rules governing membership of each of these bodies and networks. It also considers possible political barriers to continued engagement, such as budgetary contributions, application of the relevant acquis or accepting limited jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. These are balanced with the opportunities they offer, such as continued access to EU funding streams, and to the improved effectiveness of our future national environmental law and policy post Brexit.

Professor Richard Macrory QC, co-chair of the Brexit Task Force, says:

Continued membership of the European Environment Agency is an open door, ready to be pushed – the rules currently permit third country membership and anecdotal evidence suggests that the Agency would welcome continued UK involvement. But there are other bodies which are also of the highest priority for the UK where continued membership will not be so straightforward. These include the European Chemicals Agency, the Seville Process and the European Food Safety Authority. We would welcome a commitment from the Government that these important bodies will be prioritised in negotiations.

The second report, Environmental Standard Setting after Brexit highlights the challenges facing governments in the UK in developing environmental standards after Brexit in three different scenarios:

  1. if the UK is required to keep pace with EU standards under the terms of withdrawal or a trade agreement;
  2. if the UK wishes to keep pace with evolving EU standards as a matter of domestic policy; and
  3. if standards are to be developed domestically.
The third scenario – setting standards domestically – raises the biggest practical and legal challenges, as governments will need to decide how to repatriate the considerable work currently undertaken at EU level. The report takes two contrasting case-studies: standard-setting for industrial processes and water classification standards. It considers whether current arrangements might suggest starting points, or provide lessons, for developing standards domestically after Brexit. In both cases, the report recommends that governments consider ways of involving a range of stakeholders, including regulators, industry and environmental NGOs, in developing standards after Exit Day.

Andrew Bryce, co-chair of the Brexit Task Force set up by UKELA, says:

If the UK and devolved governments wish to set standards domestically after Brexit a huge amount of work will be needed to develop procedures and institutions for doing this. If arrangements are not put in place, we risk having standards that are frozen in time, and that are not capable of addressing technical innovations or developments in scientific understanding of environmental risks.

About this blog

Welcome to the UKELA Brexit Task Force blog where we consider the impact of Brexit on environmental law, practice and enforcement in the UK
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