Exit from the EU: Weakening of UK Environmental Policy

The Implications for UK Environmental Policy of a Vote to Exit the EU
The Implications for UK Environmental Policy of a Vote to Exit the EU

A recent paper commissioned by Friends of the Earth (FOE) claims that the United Kingdom (UK) could see a significant weakening of environmental protections if it leaves the EU to join the European Economic Area (EEA).

Leaving the European Union (EU) for the EEA, the UK would no longer have to comply with some “of the most environmentally significant policies”, specifically the birds and habitats directives, the bathing water and shellfish waters directives and some parts of the water framework directive. Opening the way for a future government to amend or repeal the acts that currently enforce these directives in the UK.

Additionally, the UK would also lose influence over other environmental policies, such as those on air quality and waste but would still have to comply with these requirements as if it wanted to be part of the European Union.

FoE paper is the first to study the potential environmental implications of the UK leaving the EU for the EEA, where members get preferential access to the EU market. The UK would be in the same position as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, where the UK would also not have to comply with the Common Agricultural Policy or the Common Fisheries Policy.

As it stands, there is uncharted territory for any country to consider leaving the EU and what may be consequences that would follow.

The FOE paper can be found at http://bit.ly/16wD2pj

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