Brexit blow as ministers find 1,400 more EU laws to repeal

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The government plans a eu bureaucracy bonfire after Brexit received another blow following its discovery, it may need to repeal 1,400 more laws than previously thought.

Ministers working with the National Archives have found the additional legal text, which brings the grand total of European legislation held in the UK law book to 3,800 laws from 2,400.

Thousands of EU laws were transposed into UK law, often with minimal changes, when Brexit came into effect at 11pm on December 31. This decision avoided loopholes in a wide range of post-Brexit regulations.

The government wants to revise or repealed all of these laws by the end of 2023.

But officials have warned it will be a bureaucratic nightmare as each will require legal advice and consultation with companies and other groups, the Financial Times reported.

Grant Shapps, the business secretary, is keen to slow down the review because it will need hundreds more staff, according to the FT.

Fears that Sunak will drop his engagement

Rishi Sunak promised to comb through the 2,400 laws in this year’s leadership contest against Liz Truss.

But Mr Sunak has reneged on his promise to complete the exercise within 100 days and Brexiteer backbenchers are reluctant to drop the idea entirely.

On Monday, Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, warned the UK to abandon plans to bonfire EU regulations post-Brexit or face new trade barriers for British goods.

He warned it would mean “even more costs” for UK businesses at a time of “serious economic stress” caused by soaring energy and food prices.

“More divergence will lead to even more costs and further deepen trade barriers between the EU and the UK,” he said in a speech in London.

The idea of ​​abandoning or improving legacy EU law was first mooted as a way to highlight the “opportunities of Brexit” and was floated by Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Ministers could ask for the review deadline to be extended until 2026, under legislation prepared by the former business secretary, sacked by Mr Sunak.

Brexiteer backbenchers ‘very unhappy’

The bill is at the committee stage in the House of Commons and could be amended.

Theresa Villiers, a Brexiteer and former environment and Northern Ireland secretary, told the Guardian there were so many laws it would be very difficult to meet even the 2026 deadline.

David Jones, the MP and former chairman of the Brexiteer backbench MPs’ European research group, told the FT he would be “very unhappy” with any delay.

In 2021, MPs including former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith published a report identifying some EU legacy laws that needed change.

The Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform Task Force has called for the repeal of the EU’s effective ban on GM crops, an overhaul of data protection rules and regulations on financial services and artificial intelligence.

In September of the same year, the government said it would change laws inherited from the EU to allow the return of the crown stamp on pint glasses and for imperial measurements to be used by traders.

But critics have pointed out that the existing laws do not prevent the use of the crown stamp or imperial measurements and only require that they are not given the same prominence as the EU mark or metric measurements.

Database of laws

The government has published a database of retained European law, which now appears to have underestimated the total number of legal acts from Brussels after 47 years of EU membership.

The database indicates that there are 2,417 stored EU acts. 2,006 of them are unchanged and 182 have been modified. 196 were repealed and only 33 replaced.

Most of the laws (570) concern the environment, agriculture and food safety and fall under the departmental responsibility of Defra.

A total of 424 fall under the Ministry of Transport and 374, including post-financial crisis European regulations, under the Treasury.

Some 318 rules are overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, including 228 related to customs and another 208 to work and pensions.

Among the rules inherited are laws on energy efficiency labeling of washing machines, harmonized standards for railway products, conditions for the import and sale of irradiated food, rules on pensions and compensation maternity leave, and regulations on “hazardous substances and explosive atmospheres” in the workplace.

Other rules include safety regulations for oil and gas drilling, port security, capital gains tax, rules prohibiting those under 14 from wearing an adult seat belt in a car and the regulations on sulfur emissions from certain fuels used in maritime transport.

There are also rules ensuring people with disabilities have access to passenger planes, ensuring drinking water is clean and safe, regulations that make producers pay part of the cost of recycling their packaging and a UK version of the European sewage sludge directive.

EU laws on the control of alien species in aquaculture, African horse sickness, the sale of seal products, human medicines and credit rating agencies and financial conglomerates will also need to be revised. by the British authorities.

Other regulations include common EU rules for technical requirements for electronic road toll systems, laws making it illegal to recharge a faulty vehicle air conditioning system, regulations to minimize noise pollution at airports , minimum rest periods for truck drivers and health and safety rules to protect sailors from electromagnetic fields on board ships.

UK officials will also have to look at EU rules on building silage to prevent water pollution, rules for recycling used batteries, regulations defining what a “fishing vessel” is and a multiannual plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Wine labeling rules and standards, exotic diseases in pigs, recovery measures for European eel and rules for accidentally catching whales, dolphins and porpoises while fishing will also need to be scrutinized. .

British goat keepers will be interested to know whether EU rules for labeling and traceability of horned animals will survive the scrutiny of the army of British bureaucrats who transfer the books of law. The same will apply to importers of Turkish seafood, where live bivalve molluscs are subject to additional EU safeguards, which have been transposed into the UK Wholesale Act.

Officials will also have to review the list of non-EU countries allowed to supply the UK with edible insects and snails, as well as rules requiring digital TV broadcasters to do so in a widescreen format, labeling shoes and vacation timeshare.

A UK Government spokesman said: “The Government is committed to reaping the full benefits of Brexit, which is why we are moving forward with our Retained EU Legislation Bill, which will end to the special legal status of all retained European laws and will enable us to ensure that our laws and regulations best suit the needs of the country.

“The process of identifying and registering EU secondary legislation is an ongoing process and an essential exercise in accelerating regulatory reform and reclaiming the UK statute book. The government’s legislative record will be refined over time as other retained EU legislation is repealed, replaced or identified.

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