EU may force UK to uphold environmental commitments

According to a leaked report, the European Parliament’s negotiating position on the UK’s pull out from the EU includes explicit measures to comply with European environmental regulations.

The leaked document seen by the Guardian contains recommendations from MEPs in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee to be included as part of any new trade deal.

It includes a specific call for an arbitration court to be established to hold the UK to account on its EU-mandated commitments on issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, air quality and protecting wildlife.

The document is part of the European Parliament’s emerging set of ‘red lines’ that it would vote down if the UK fails to include them in its Brexit deal. 

It reportedly states that any deal “must include an explicit mechanism to ensure that the UK is bound to avoid damage to the EU environment”.

Retaining legislation

The Prime Minister has confirmed that all EU legislation will be initially retained in domestic law when the UK leaves the EU, but has not ruled out any laws being repealed in future.

EEF, the manufacturer’s organisation, has previously revealed that the vast majority of businesses want to continue complying with EU environmental regulations.

The EU’s final negotiating position is yet to be defined and will have to be agreed by the full European Parliament, as well as the European Council, which is made up of ministers from each member state.

However, a UN representative has made similar calls for ensuring UK compliance following a visit to the UK in January.

Baskut Tuncak, UN special rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances, said that the UK had an “obligation to progress, not to slide backwards” on its commitments.

Recycling and circular economy

Among the environmental regulations expected to apply to the UK after it leaves the EU is the forthcoming Circular Economy Package, which will cover a wide range of measures to encourage the transition away from the traditional ‘take, make, use and throw away’ approach to business.

In January, MEPs voted in favour of increasing the 2030 recycling target of municipal waste in the package to 70 per cent. 

EU member states are currently working towards a recycling target of 50 per cent by 2020, although the UK is unlikely to reach this goal. This in part due to England’s regression on recycling packaging, prompting calls for a tax to incentivise companies to re-think their packaging.

In the latest update to its Environmental Implementation Review, which aims to improve the implementation of environmental legislation in member states, the European Commission has also suggested that the UK improve and broaden its extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes.

Posted under General Interest and Environmental Regulations and Legislation on 7 February 2017