EU Demands Legal Assurance that the UK Won’t Lower Environmental Standards Post-Brexit


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On Tuesday, Michel Barnier, the chief Brexit negotiator of the European Union, said that the EU wants the United Kingdom to promise not to lower its standards on environmental protection after it withdraws from the bloc.

He said that a pledge to that end should be written down in the treaty that will regulate the relations between London and the 27 countries that will stay in the European Union after the United Kingdom leaves the bloc at the end of March 2019.

In a meeting on the environment that was organized by the European Parliament, Barnier said: “In the future relationship we should commit to no lowering of the standards of environmental protection.

“The agreement on the future relationship with the UK should include a non-regression clause. This can be inspired by the CETA (Canada-EU free trade agreement) or Japan FTA (free trade agreement) provisions, but this will need to go further. It should prevent any reduction of the key pre-Brexit standards.”

He said that without such a legal safeguard, the United Kingdom could decide to reduce its standards on environmental protection in order to gain a competitive advantage with regards to trade.

This would not only increase the pollution and environmentally harmful production in the United Kingdom, but also raise the pollution for the neighbours of Britain.

Barnier stated: “Reduced UK ambition on air pollution could result in neighbouring states (Ireland, Belgium, France the Netherlands) needing up to 9 percent more effort to reach their clean air objectives – with significant additional costs.”

He noted that Theresa May, the British Prime Minister,  assured the European Union that London would not engage in a race to the bottom with regards to environmental protection and that her words were reflected in the proposed 25-year plan of Britain on the environment.

He stated: “This is welcome, but my responsibility as the EU negotiator is to remain extremely vigilant.”