UK must respect the environment post-Brexit

A new report by T&E has concluded that any preferential access for the United Kingdom to the EU’s internal market must be conditional on the UK agreeing to respect EU environmental standards and climate targets after Brexit. The report, Putting the Environment at the Heart of Brexit, says Britain must not be allowed to gain any advantage through ‘environmental dumping’.

The British exit from the European Union was decided at a referendum in June 2016, and under article 50 of the EU treaty the UK will leave at the end of March 2019. The British government is currently looking to retain a number of benefits of EU membership in its ‘divorce settlement’, but EU negotiators have taken a position that no European country should have greater benefits from the EU than member states enjoy.

T&E’s report is designed to influence these negotiations. It says any deal must be conditional on British adherence to a range of EU climate and environmental standards, both general and transport-specific. In particular it calls for:
• negotiations on regulatory cooperation, harmonisation and equivalence to be carried out in a transparent, accountable manner;
• the UK to remain part of the EU’s 2030 climate framework;
• the UK to comply with future environmental and safety standards adopted by the EU for vehicles;
• vehicles approved in the UK and the EU to be measured according to the same standards and procedures, including the EU type approval framework currently being negotiated;
• access to the aviation single market to be conditional on adherence to current and future safety, environmental and security regulations, rules relating to state aid, and climate protection;
• the UK to remain in the EU ETS, or to be required to link its own emission trading system with the EU, or, failing that, in the aviation sector flights between the UK and EU to be required to surrender allowances.

T&E’s director for trade and regulation, Cécile Toubeau, said: ‘The EU is not only an economic union, it is a climate union, an environmental union and, since recently, an energy union. We have seen time and again that countries are often able to tackle long-term, challenging issues, such as climate change, more successfully when working together. We shouldn’t allow brexit to undermine this.

‘While the current EU-UK negotiations have focused on the European Commission’s primary aim of citizens’ rights and business stability, the environment cannot remain an afterthought. It needs to be placed at the heart of negotiations.’