The UK can’t water-down green laws when it leaves the European Union. A leaked document drafted by MEPs in the environment committee state the Brexit deal “must include an explicit mechanism to ensure that the UK is bound to avoid damage to the EU environment”, whilst “existing legislation which provides for commitments (financial, emissions reduction or of a political nature) cannot simply disappear on the day of Brexit and will require transitional measures”.
The MEPs also warn that the parliament would vote down any agreement that didn’t maintain current environmental protection levels. Such demands would “tie the hands of [the Prime Minister] Theresa May” should she wish to cut back on regulations post-Brexit, noted the Guardian.
The government has said its Great Repeal Bill, expected later this year, will incorporate many regulations into UK law, including those covering environmental issues. However, this will be far from easy, according to a recent report by the Environmental Audit Committee. “Protections for Britain's wildlife and special places currently guaranteed under European law could end up as 'zombie legislation' even with the Great Repeal Bill,” said EAC chair Mary Creagh last month.
New trading agreements with the rest of the world could also lead to “increased competition from larger economies with lower animal welfare, food safety and environmental standards”, the cross-party group of MPs warned. Campaigners and politicians have warned that a rushed deal with the US puts the environment and food safety at risk.
February’s Footprint magazine will feature more Brexit insight from our expert panel.