There is very real concern that despite the assurances given at the time, EU Exit will over time lead to diminution in standards of various sorts, ranging from social protection, to animal welfare and the environment.
The recently announced trade deal with Australia will inevitably mean that Scottish farmers will be competing on an un-level playing field with Australian imports produced at lower welfare standards. There are particular concerns around hot branding, sow stalls and the conditions in which animals are permitted to be exported live.
Whilst the Scottish Government has undertaken extensive work to prepare for the challenges posed by EU Exit for the environment – for example, gaining consent to 55 statutory instruments (SIs) and 15 Scottish statutory instruments (SSIs) and establishing a new, independent environmental governance body, Environmental Standards Scotland, to uphold and enforce environmental law – similar concerns apply in that area. For example, it is far from certain whether, in light of the UK's Internal Market Act, the Scottish Parliament will have a free hand, as it should, to follow beneficial EU legislation and take necessary, urgent action in response to the climate and biodiversity crises. Over time, if our ability to uphold high environmental standards is compromised, this will impact on the services that society and the economy receive from our natural capital. And if our reputation for environmental quality is harmed, this could affect our tourism and food and drink sectors.
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