Will EU marine legislation continue to apply once Brexit becomes operational?

The consultancy ABPmer has produced an assessment of which of the existing EU laws will continue to apply to the UK following Brexit, and which will not.

If the UK remains wholly within the EU’s Single Market, then most of the existing EU laws will continue to apply.

However the consultancy has also considered the situation if the UK does not become a fully paid-up member of the Single Market. If that were the case, then the following could occur.

Outside Single Market:

Key points:

  • UK companies seeking to export to EU would be subject to product environmental requirements.
  • UK would remain subject to international commitments (e.g. OSPAR, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)).
  • UK no longer subject to:
    • Bathing Waters Directive.
    • Birds and Habitats Directives.
    • Water Framework Directive.
    • Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
    • Maritime Spatial Planning Directive.
  • Common Fisheries Policy would no longer apply.
  • Access to EU funding programmes would be unlikely.

Under this scenario with the UK outside of the Single Market, the extent to which the UK needed to comply with EU environmental legislation would be further reduced, although again, in policy terms, the UK might choose to continue to broadly work to the requirements of the Directives.

However, should the UK decide to repeal certain directives, UK companies seeking to export to EU would still need to comply with water pollution control Directives (such as IPPC, UWWTD). On the basis that it is unlikely that the UK would seek to introduce a two-tier system for companies exporting or not exporting to the EU, it seems likely that existing water pollution control arrangements based on European legislation would remain in force. Broader international commitments in relation to OSPAR, IMO and UNCLOS would also remain.

With the UK no longer subject to the Birds and Habitats Directive, as above, it is possible that the MCAA (UK’s Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009) and equivalent devolved legislation could provide the framework for managing SPAs, SACs and Ramsar sites.

If the UK was no longer subject to WFD, it is unclear whether these provisions would be replaced with similar or different legislation. Prior to the WFD the UK has had long established systems of catchment planning and water quality classification dating from the 1990’s. The UK could continue to contribute to OSPAR status reports as well as national marine reporting such as Charting Progress.

If the UK was outside the Single Market, access to EU environmental funding would be significantly curtailed. It is possible that the UK could introduce its own national funding arrangements.

Source: ABPmer. For the full details, see www.abpmer.co.uk/media/1491/white-paper-brexit-implications-for-marine-environment.pdf

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