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What effect will a bonfire of European regulations have?

 


Dear Rocio,
I own a small business that exports to Europe. I want to know what the bonfire of EU regulations proposed by the government could mean for my business. Should I be worried?
Name and address provided

Rocío says: The Retained EU Legislation Bill will affect huge swaths of legislation in this country, many of which are fundamental to the way we live, from the safety of products such as toys to ensuring that the food we eat buy are safe to eat.

The purpose of the bills is to review and decide whether to retain, reform or remove thousands of regulations established through our decades of EU membership.

However, in the current form of the bills, there is a sunset clause for regulations formed while we were in the EU, which means that unless thousands of laws are proactively saved by the ministers, they will be phased out by the end of next year.

The risk is therefore that opportunities to reform and improve legislation are wasted for lack of time. In addition, some pieces of legislation could simply be missed and removed from the statute book by mistake.

This is bad news for consumers in terms of potential loss of crucial protections as well as for businesses in terms of the lack of legal certainty with the possibility of so many legal requirements changing or disappearing in such a short time.

A cost of living crisis is not the time to leave the door open for rogue traders to exploit potentially weakened crucial safety and consumer rights protections.

For public servants, considering the sunsetting effect of this set of laws would be a commitment at all times. It will take a Herculean effort considering the other pressing issues at hand.

Rising inflation and cost of living crisis. A land war in Eastern Europe. The impact on the NHS of a two-year pandemic that has turned many of our lives upside down.

Business groups are concerned. Recently, a string of them wrote to Business Secretary Grant Shapps, warning him that the bill and its tight deadline to review EU spin-off laws have created unnecessary uncertainty for businesses, which are already struggling with new trade relations with countries on the continent.

The bill includes a fallback option, which allows ministers to choose to delay the sunset clause until June 23, 2026 something Who? encourages departments to make use of to allow time for proper regulatory review.

Although this option is preferable, Who? believes there is a better third way to ensure that legislation can be revised so that it brings real benefits to businesses and consumers.

Instead of automatically scrapping regulations with the uncertainty it creates for businesses and consumers, the bill could set June 23, 2026 as the deadline for a full review of retained EU legislation. This would give the government time to thoroughly review and reform our laws, which in a number of cases need improvement.

This is especially the case for a number of our laws which simply have not kept pace with the way we live our increasingly online lives. Similarly, where there are burdensome or unnecessary regulations on business, they could be removed.

Rocio Concha is who? director of policy and advocacy at which.co.uk. To have your question listed on this page, email [email protected]

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