EU Exit – Key Areas of Impact on UK Policy

EU Exit – Key Areas of Impact on UK Policy

(House of Commons Library – U.K. Parliament)

If the UK left the EU, would UK citizens benefit? This would depend on how the Government filled any policy gaps left by withdrawal. In some areas, the environment, for example, where the UK is bound by other international agreements, much of the content of EU law would probably remain. In others, the government might decide to retain the substance of EU law, or to remove EU obligations from UK statutes. Much would also depend on whether the UK sought to remain in the European Economic Area and therefore continue to have access to the single market, or preferred to go it alone and negotiate bilateral agreements with the EU.

The briefing paper looks at the current situation in seventeen different categories of policy areas and considers how it might change if the UK left the EU. This article looks at only two of the areas, Energy and Environment, but the Government’s assessment of the changes in other areas make interesting reading. Follow the link at the bottom of the page for the full article. It is worth a read.

Energy and climate change

The Government is unlikely to want to reverse the trend for more transparency and a level playing field at EU level which is currently being implemented by the Commission’s ‘Third Energy Package’ and by the 2015 Framework for Energy Union. An EU exit would not remove the legally binding UK climate targets under the Climate Change Act 2008   although it could increase focus on all aspects of UK based generation. This could especially be the case if exit resulted in poorer security of supply through decreased interconnectivity to Europe, reduced harmonisation of EU energy markets, or less investment into the UK by multinational companies.

An exit would affect the UK’s international climate targets under the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Currently the UK negotiates as a part of the EU Block and has internally set targets that together with that of other Member States aims to meet the EU’s overall target. Withdrawal from the EU would have to address that lack of a UK specific target under UNFCCC. It was also widely recognised in the competency review that the negotiating as part of an EU block was beneficial as it had more influence at an international level than if individual Member States acted alone.


The environment is an area in which UK and EU law have become highly entwined. The effects of an EU-exit would depend on whether the UK decided to lower, raise or maintain current environmental requirements in areas such as air and water quality, emissions, waste, chemicals regulation or habitats protection. If the UK left the EU, it would have more scope for changing environmental objectives in the UK and there would also be a less far-reaching judicial process to enforce the implementation of environmental policy and challenge its interpretation.

The full list of categories covered in the report are:

Business and financial services
Energy and climate change
Human rights
International development
Police and justice co-operation
Social security
Higher education
Consumer policy
Foreign and defence policy
The devolved legislatures
Northern Ireland


Full Briefing Document

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