Tuesday, 9 January 2018

A crack in the dam

According to The Guardian the British government may have breached a major "environmental democracy" law by failing to consult the public when drawing up Brexit legislation. A UN-backed committee has confirmed it is considering a complaint from Friends of the Earth that the government’s EU withdrawal bill breached the UNECE Aarhus convention, which requires public consultation on any new environmental law.

"Michael Mason, associate professor at the LSE, says the government remains legally bound by the Aarhus convention after withdrawal from the EU, and by abolishing laws relating to [UNECE] Aarhus provisions the UK would be in breach of the treaty."

I reckon this is clutching at straws (as FoE so very often does) but the UK government will need to be aware that much EU law exists in response to global conventions to which the UK is a signatory in its own right and consequently does not have a carte blanche in deregulation.

This is inconvenient to both extremes of the Brexit debate in that those who were assuming Brexit equals sovereignty are in for a shock, meanwhile those remainers who assumed the EU was the source of protections/rights are about to learn how mistaken they are.

That I know of this is the first time (but far from the last) we have bumped into the double coffin lid, where we the removal of Brussels' influence reveals a much underreported sphere or global regulation and international obligations with which we shall have to contend.

Though the Guardian cannot bring itself to mention UNECE or indeed link to it, eventually the veil will be lifted. Maybe then we can start a serious conversation about Britain's role in single market regulations after Brexit. 

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