The European Commission was given a hard time when it briefed MEPs on the level playing field mechanism in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).
MEPs asked pointed questions about what constitutes regression and what action could be taken if the EU-UK level playing field is undermined. However, some of their concerns were not fully addressed. MEP Pascal Canfin (RE, FR) said he was not satisfied with the Commission’s replies and might submit written questions.
MEP Bas Eickhout (Greens, NL) gave some concrete examples, such as the UK’s recent interest in enabling greater use of gene-edited crops – and asked if this was a form of regression. If the EU strengthens its legislation banning the use of neonicotinoids (bee-killing pesticides), what happens if the UK does not follow?
NGOs’ and think tanks views on the weakness of the non-regression clause were echoed in the Parliament. ‘Is it sufficient to safeguard the level playing field if the burden of proof is so high?’ asked MEP Pietro Fiocchi (ECR, IT).
Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, exchange on the Trade and Cooperation Deal, 14 January 2021