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. OSPAROSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic made up of representatives of the Governments of the 15 signatory nations., International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOSUNCLOS The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty.)).
  • 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 SPAsSPA Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are strictly protected sites classified in accordance with Article 4 of the EC Birds Directive, which came into force in April 1979. They are classified for rare and vulnerable birds (as listed on Annex I of the Directive), and for regularly occurring migratory species., SACsSAC Special Areas of Conservation and RamsarRAMSAR The Convention on Wetlands is of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat http://ramsar.org (Ramsar Convention or Wetlands Convention) was adopted in Ramsar, Iran in February 1971 and entered into force in December 1975. The Convention covers all aspects of wetland conservation and wise use. The Convention has three main 'pillars' of activity: + the designation of wetlands of international importance as Ramsar sites www.wetlands.org/RDB/quick.html + the promotion of the wise-use of all wetlands in the territory of each country + and international co-operation with other countries to further the wise-use of wetlands and their resources. The Convention's Contracting Parties have assumed a wide range of related obligations. As of December 2003 there were 138 Contracting Parties to the Convention http://ramsar.org/key_cp_e.htm, with 1,328 Ramsar sites covering over 111 million hectares. 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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