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New Retained EU Law Bill creates uncertainty for UK businesses

The UK Government has announced the introduction of a new Bill aimed at removing the retained EU legislation that exists in the UK legal system.

The 2018 EU Withdrawal Act provided continuity for UK businesses by incorporating EU law into the UK legal system. The new Bill announced 22 September, sets out a timeline for the replacement of EU law for the end of 2023 (December 31). EU Laws will be repealed automatically if they are not intentionally preserved or replaced before this time. This “sunset” period may be extended for specified retained EU laws until 2026.

Laws encompassing environmental regulation, product safety, data protection, employment, intellectual property, financial services, and competition will all be in scope of this bill. If laws are retained, they will become “assimilated law” to reflect that EU specific features no longer apply.

This Bill is likely to present significant uncertainty for UK businesses who are in support of harmonisation and continuity. The short time frame also runs the risk of laws being either repealed without adequate replacement or substituted with laws that lack the required level of public and business engagement to be effective. This Bill also notably gives licence to the UK and devolved governments to reform retained EU law. This gives rise to the possibility of internal fragmentation as well as misalignment with Europe.

techUK will be engaging with Government to ensure that emergent issues around supply chains and the environment are accounted for. It is in the interest of the tech sector that the Government pursues a progressive business agenda.

techUK emphasises that British divergence from EU policies often increases compliance costs, particularly for the many businesses that operate in both markets. Any proposals for British laws to diverge from the corresponding EU laws must be subject to a thorough impact assessment to understand whether the potential benefits of divergence outweigh the inevitable costs.

techUK will be running a webinar to discuss the subject. Please get in touch with if you wish to discuss this ahead of time.


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