After the UK’s PM decision to postpone the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, which was originally scheduled for 11th of December, all sides are stepping up preparations for a no deal UK departure.
Whilst a lot of focus lies on dealing with immediate consequences arising from border issues, for example interruptions to the supply of essential goods, the UK has had to speed up the legislative work needed to close the gaps in UK’s statute book for when EU laws will no longer apply. Among those rules will be the EU’s chemical safety norms, namely the REACH regulation.
Although the UK wants to copy across REACH into domestic law, ChemicalWatch reported that a Defra official confirmed that in a no-deal scenario the UK could start to diverge from the EU’s regulations and would consider what other regions such as the US are doing and weigh this against the UK’s interests.
One flagship case is the REACH process of identifying substances which are found to be intrinsically hazardous (named Substances of Very High Concern) and become subject of substitution with safer alternatives. The UK has been known to raise objections to identifying such substances and the US chemical safety rules (TSCA – see next article) do not promote the substitution of toxic chemicals.
Such a scenario brings to light a high risk of UK divergence from EU legislation post-Brexit, which would be detrimental to maintaining a level playing field between the EU and UK.