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New research to assess long-term governance implications of Brexit in the UK

Researchers from the University of East Anglia are involved in a major research project exploring the long-term governance implications of Brexit.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has announced £3.5m of funding for a programme examining the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, including on the country’s constitutional arrangements, public service provision and delivery and economic performance across different places and sectors such as agriculture industries.

A project led by the University of Sheffield, in collaboration with UEA and the University of York, will explore agri-environmental governance post-Brexit and the co-production of policy frameworks.

The UK's decision to leave the EU represents the most substantial change in the governance of UK agricultural land use since the UK's incorporation into the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 1973. This could affect tens of thousands of agricultural holdings and involve a potentially radical change in the management and governance of a substantial proportion of the UK's land.

To achieve the UK government's vision of a 'Green Brexit', payments to UK farmers will be based upon the principle of 'public money for public goods' – for example, enhanced biodiversity and improved soil, water and air quality – replacing the current EU CAP system that largely allocates payments based upon the amount of land owned by the claimant.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) – the government department responsible for devising and delivering the post-Brexit payment system – has stated that this new policy will be developed in collaboration with stakeholders.

To aid the development of this policy, the project will work with Defra and multiple agricultural and environmental stakeholders to identify ways to collaboratively involve the people and organisations that will be most affected by policy changes resulting from the UK’s exit from the EU.

Dr David Rose, from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: "This research is timely and important as Defra seeks to co-design new agricultural policies post-Brexit, including new agri-environment schemes. Our work will help Defra to engage stakeholders across agricultural communities so that new policies are good for farmers, productivity, and nature. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get things right for people, for food, and for the environment."

The Governance after Brexit programme will work closely with the ESRC’s UK in a Changing Europe Initiative to maximise the wider impact of its distinctive long term research perspective on Brexit.

UK in a Changing Europe provides authoritative, non-partisan and high-quality research into the moving and complicated relationship between the UK and the European Union.

Prof Daniel Wincott, of Cardiff University and ESRC Leadership Coordinator for Governance after Brexit, said: “Governance after Brexit is a new programme of ESRC funded research that sets Brexit in a long term perspective. Today, considerable uncertainty attaches to Brexit. If UK is to make the best of its relationships with the EU and the wider world we need to look beyond the febrility and contentiousness that mark the current debate. 

“Social scientists are uniquely placed to interrogate Brexit’s deep causes and consequences. The Governance after Brexit Programme projects will develop fundamental research to generate new evidence and understanding. Each has a clear strategy to use its research to impact on the economy and society, politics and policy.”

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