What do the ‘level playing field’ provisions in the UK-EU TCA mean for UK environmental law post-Brexit?

What do the ‘level playing field’ provisions in the UK-EU TCA mean for UK environmental law post-Brexit?

Has the requirement of ‘non regression' in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) prevented the UK from diverging from the environmental protections in place at the end of the Brexit transition period?

On 24 December 2020, the UK government and the European Commission announced a deal in principle on the legal terms of the future UK-EU relationship. The EU-UK TCA contains, at Part 2, Heading 1, Title XI, Chapter 7, a section on the ‘environment and climate’  which includes complex provisions to maintain a ‘level playing field’ in regard to environmental standards following Brexit. This means that while the UK can adopt its own, different, rules on environmental issues, the provisions in the TCA should in theory represent an important constraint on the UK’s freedom to enact rules that significantly diverge from those at EU level. However, it remains to be seen how the framework set out in the TCA will be enforced, and divergences between EU and UK environmental laws are already starting to creep in.

In our latest news analysis, Genevra Forwood, Jacquelyn MacLennan and Emma Bichet of White & Case consider what the rules on the ‘level playing field’, and the related concept of ‘non-regression’, mean in practice for environmental legislation in the UK going forward. The also discuss whether any major divergences between UK and EU law have occurred since the EU-UK TCA was announced, and provide three examples of current, or potential, divergences in the areas of exporting plastic waste, pesticide authorisation and regulating genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Read the full article here: Environmental law after Brexit—level playing field and divergence.


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