Huge gaps in UK regulation exist following transition from EU, new academic report finds 

Published by  Communications

On 25th Feb 2021

The UK is still not in a position to assume responsibility for regulation in several critical policy areas including trade, crime and the environment, according to a new report led by UEA academics.  

The report ‘UK regulation after Brexit’ finds that the UK was ill-prepared when responsibility for regulation switched from the EU following the end of the transition period. The UK does not have the physical or IT infrastructures in place to manage trade in its new relationship with the EU and is relying on transitional arrangements to make the system work. 

UK regulators are still not ready to take on their new responsibilities the report, by UK in a Changing Europe, the Centre for Competition Policy, and Brexit & Environment, finds. 

In the environment, the UK left the EU’s European Environment Agency but the UK Office for Environmental Protection has still not opened, leaving the UK without a body to monitor government action or scrutinise compliance with environmental law. 

Many UK authorities are not adequately equipped compared to the EU bodies they replaced. Staffing and budget are an issue, but UK bodies lack powers in inspection and enforcement too. They have also lost access to data crucial to the police and border control. Europol databases had been consulted more than 500 million times a year by UK authorities, and the Metropolitan Police made more than 100,000 requests for information from the European Criminal Records Information System.

Professor Hussein Kassim, from UEA’s School of Politics and Senior Fellow of UK in a Changing Europe, said: “The report shows that the challenges facing the UK following the end of the transition are not merely teething problems. 

“The UK has assumed huge regulatory responsibilities, but it is not clear that UK regulators are sufficiently powerful, have the right resources or can develop the necessary expertise to perform effectively even in the medium-term. Although the UK has gained regulatory autonomy in theory, it faces formidable constraints to diverge in practice.” 

The report also raises important question marks about costs and duplication. 

In chemicals and aviation, UK regulators replicate the same functions that are performed by EU bodies and in those industries, which are both heavily regulated, it will be a tall order for UK authorities to develop the same levels of expertise as the EU bodies they replace. 

UK businesses wanting to operate in both the UK and the EU will have to submit to the same bureaucracy twice. In chemicals, industry will have to cover the costs of testing and registration a second time, estimated at a total of £1bn, when they only recently paid for the creation of the EU system. 

The report, also describes how the UK EU deal leaves significant ‘unfinished business’. There are grace periods for customs formalities, issues where the UK and the EU still need to reach agreement, and transitional arrangements where the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU are not yet decided and where the full effects have yet to be felt. 

A future review of energy is linked to how well the new arrangements play out in fisheries, while the entire agreement will be reviewed every five years. 

The report concludes that the UK’s decision to leave the single market and the customs union was driven by a determination to gain regulatory autonomy at all costs. But, in practice, the UK is unlikely to be able to diverge over the long term. 

The UK is bound by the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and highly dependent on trade with the EU and the UK is constrained by wider international laws and conventions. The EU is a global standard setter in many areas, so if the UK were to diverge from these standards it is likely to disadvantage businesses in the country. 

Study with us

Explore our research

Latest News

  News
MRI scanner being used in the new Brain Imaging Centre
29 Jul 2021

UEA opens £3m Wellcome-Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre

UEA has officially opened the doors of its new £3m state-of-the-art neuroimaging research centre, thanks to funding totalling £1.3m from two charitable...

Read more >
  News
Ziggurats on campus
28 Jul 2021

UEA becomes one of the first universities to join University Mental Health Charter Programme

UEA is among one of the first universities in the country to join Student Minds' new University Mental Health Charter, further demonstrating and developing its...

Read more >
  News
28 Jul 2021

UEA scientists to uncover infections that could cause aggressive prostate cancer

Researchers from the University of East Anglia are investigating whether certain infections could trigger the development of aggressive prostate cancer – thanks...

Read more >
  News
28 Jul 2021

How relaxing Covid-19 restrictions could pave the way for vaccine resistance

Relaxing Covid-19 restrictions could pave the way for new vaccine-resistant virus mutations – according to researchers at the University of East Anglia and the...

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
  News
28 Jul 2021

How relaxing Covid-19 restrictions could pave the way for vaccine resistance

Relaxing Covid-19 restrictions could pave the way for new vaccine-resistant virus mutations – according to researchers at the University of East Anglia and the...

Read more >
  News
27 Jul 2021

From big Cs to celebrancy - Prof Dylan Edwards says farewell to UEA after 23 years

After a career focused on the study of cancer biology Professor Dylan Edwards is looking at a completely new venture as he says farewell to UEA after 23 years.

Read more >
  News
23 Jul 2021

UEA part of £2.5 million study on links between overlapping long-term health conditions

The links between different long-term health conditions will be explored in new research funded with a £2.5 million grant from the Medical Research Council.

Read more >
  News
21 Jul 2021

The impact of climate change on Kenya's Tana River Basin

Many species within Kenya’s Tana River Basin will be unable to survive if global temperatures continue to rise as they are on track to do – according to new...

Read more >
  News
Jago Cooper
20 Jul 2021

Appointment of new Director of the Sainsbury Centre

UEA and the Board of the Sainsbury Centre have appointed Jago Cooper as the new Director of the Sainsbury Centre and Professor of Art and Archaeology, starting...

Read more >
  News
19 Jul 2021

Global satellite data shows clouds will amplify global heating

A new approach to analyse satellite measurements of Earth’s cloud cover reveals that clouds are very likely to enhance global heating, according to a new...

Read more >
  News
19 Jul 2021

Novel coronavirus discovered in British bats

A coronavirus related to the virus that causes Covid-19 in humans has been found in UK horseshoe bats – according to new collaborative research from the...

Read more >