EU law reform

Minister says UK legislation risks ‘race to the bottom’.

A race to the bottom in standards across a range of issues including workers’ rights, food and the environment could be triggered under the UK Government’s latest post Brexit plans, Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson has told Parliament.

The UK Government intends to introduce the Brexit Freedoms Bill, which it says will mean EU legacy law, kept on the statute book after Brexit, can be more easily amended or removed.

More than 2,000 pieces of legislation could be affected covering matters including product standards, consumer protection, genetically modified foods and transport safety.

The scale and breadth of the UK Government’s proposals would have ‘massive implications’ for Scotland and put the Scottish Government’s policy of aligning with EU standards at risk, Mr Robertson said in a parliamentary statement.

He added:

“Whilst the UK Government has declined to share details of the Brexit Freedoms Bill with us, we should be under no illusion about the risk it presents to Scotland.

“The main purpose of the Bill appears to be to give the UK Government the freedom to abandon legislation that has protected Scottish interests for almost 50 years.

“It will create uncertainty for business and threatens to fire the starting pistol in a race to the bottom on standards – on food, the environment, animal and plant health, and workers’ rights.

“It is unacceptable that the UK Government seems ready to unveil sweeping measures that could have profound consequences for Scotland with such little discussion or respect for the Scottish Parliament, Government – or the people of Scotland.

“The question for us all is whether we are prepared to put up with this unfolding catastrophe, imposed against the wishes and interests of Scotland, or whether we say enough is enough and forge a better future for everyone who lives here.”


Constitution Secretary’s Statement to Parliament on Retained EU Law

The list of EU retained legislation and regulations published by the UK Government includes:

  • environmental product standards; product safety standards; consumer protection
  • employment law
  • climate change regulations
  • environmental stewardship; agrifood; genetically modified food and organics
  • environmental standards; water quality; air quality; noise control; hazardous waste regulations
  • animal welfare; biosecurity; plant health
  • vehicle standards; rail safety; aviation safety; passenger rights
  • human medicines; food hygiene

As the UK Government’s Brexit Freedoms Bill will have implications for devolved powers, it will need legislative consent from the Scottish Parliament before passing.


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