The Implications for UK Environmental Policy of a Vote to Exit the EU

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Publication date9 May 2013
PublisherFriends of the Earth
TypeBriefing for Friends of the Earth
Number of pages9
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The planned referendum on whether the UK should exit the European Union raises a great many questions about the UK’s relationship with the European Union (EU) and of the costs and benefits of EU membership. In the field of environmental policy, perhaps more than in any other area, the EU has had an overwhelmingly positive effect. Through its EU membership the UK government has been required to put in place a host of policies with strict targets that are legally binding, and to provide regular publicly available reports upon its performance in relation to those targets. If the UK exits from the EU but remains part of the European Economic Area the huge progress made in improving the UK environment could be lost in the absence of external pressure and auditing from EU actors, particularly in the areas of habitats, birds and bathing water, whilst the UK would still be subject to a wide range of EU laws but with little influence over their content. A total withdrawal suggests a much wider erosion of environmental policy, which is perhaps the intention of the right within and without of the Conservative Party, but one which risks significant environmental damage to the UK.

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