Brexit: Potential environmental policy consequences for the UK | New IEEP report


Image (CC BY-NC 2.0) Niccolò Caranti /

Image (CC BY-NC 2.0) Niccolò Caranti /

A recently published report by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), in collaboration with The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and WWF UK, considers the potential consequences a #Brexit could have on environmental policy in the UK.

The research focuses on two scenarios. In the first, the UK retains access to the internal market through membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), a status that Norway currently enjoys. The second scenario assumes that the UK is entirely outside of the EU and other European agreements.

The report provides a nuanced assessment of the impact of EU membership and Brexit on a number of areas of policy, including pollution control, nature conservation, climate and energy, agriculture and fisheries.

The research identifies “substantial risks to future UK environmental ambition and outcomes” from complete withdrawal from European agreements, with a “risk that environmental standards could be lowered to seek competitive advantage”. Retaining membership of the EEA would mean that most EU environmental law would continue to apply, although not in areas such as nature conservation, bathing water, agriculture and fisheries policy. It also highlights the reduced influence that the UK will have in areas where it has played a leading role, such as climate policy.

The report also highlights the uncertainty and risks for environmental standards and investment during any prolonged period of international negotiation that would follow.

Overall, the authors conclude: “it is likely that a UK departure from the EU would leave the British environment in a more vulnerable and uncertain position than if the country were to remain as a member of the EU.”

You can read the report in full on the IEEP website (pdf, 1.6MB). There is an opportunity to learn more and discuss the findings at the UK in a Changing Europe (UKiCE) Initiative’s event on 11 April, with guest speakers including Matthew Spencer and Nick Molho.

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