The ins and outs of the EU

Leaving the EU could wipe out more than 3% of all UK laws overnight, according to a University of Brighton law expert

Dr Richard Lang, a Senior Lecturer in EU Law at the University of Brighton’s Brighton Business School, gave written evidence to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into the costs and benefits of EU membership for the UK’s foreign policy. 

He said: “If one takes the total percentage of the UK’s laws deriving from Brussels as 7% and if one imagines for the sake of argument that half of these are regulations, then that could be 3.5% of existing British law wiped out overnight.

“Many of these would have international or foreign policy implications. These would include regulations concerning anti-dumping duties, which the UK would presumably have to reimpose on the offending country or countries on its own if it still desired the relevant protection, and regulations imposing so-called ‘smart sanctions’.” 

The House inquiry is being carried out to “inform public debate in advance of the upcoming referendum on EU membership”. It is considering whether and in what ways EU membership helps or hinders the UK in achieving its foreign policy goals, and how the UK’s role on the global stage might change if it votes to leave the EU.

Dr Lang considered the extent to which the UK could continue to participate in EU collective action on an ad-hoc basis if it left the EU, what might become of sanctions such as those currently imposed by the EU on Russia, and consequences of a Brexit on the European Arrest Warrant, public procurement, and the UK’s current and future trade relations with its European neighbours.

With regard to public procurement, Dr Lang said, leaving the EU would mean the UK would no longer be bound to put big public contracts out to EU-wide tender. Firms like Bombardier, the plane and train manufacturer which is cutting 1,350 jobs in the UK, would be prevented from losing a contract like the provision of rolling stock for London’s Thameslink network to a German firm like Siemens.

He added: “But again that would cut both ways, and British manufacturers of wind turbines, for example, might themselves lose contracts in other EU states wishing to build wind farms. The solution to all of these issues, of course, would be for the UK voluntarily to maintain adherence to the EU’s rules, but this would surely call into question the purpose of withdrawal in the first place.”

To see all of Dr Lang’s written evidence, go to: www.brighton.ac.uk/crome/index.aspx

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