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UK Government to review EU Retained law by 2023 through new Parliamentary Bill

The UK Government has announced the introduction of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill to review EU legislation that still exists in the UK legal system.

Retained EU Law is a category of domestic law created at the end of the transition period and consists of EU-derived legislation that was preserved in our domestic legal framework by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The 2018 EU Withdrawal Act provided continuity for UK businesses by incorporating EU law into the UK legal system.  

The Government announced a new Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill on 22 September. This Bill will end the special status granted to EU law since the Withdrawal Act and will aim to repeal or assimilate this EU law by a “sunset” date of December 31 2023. This 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.  

In a number of areas UK businesses continue to benefit from aligned rules and regulations with our largest market. While in some areas there are advantages in the UK to changing its rules ensuring that there is continuity and certainty where it makes sense will be important for business decisions and investment.  

There will therefore be some concern at the short time frame this Bill sets out. This  runs the risk of laws being either repealed without adequate replacement or substituted with laws that lack the required level of public and business engagement to be effective.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. 

We would therefore encourage the Government to assimilate EU law unless there is thorough engagement with stakeholders to determine a good reason for repeal. As the Bill will end the special status of EU retained law, changes in legislation can always be made at a future date if needed.  

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.  

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 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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