Joint call for evidence launched by Defra and DECC to assess benefits of EU environmental laws, including air quality
The government has begun work to assess how the European Union’s environmental legislation, including laws covering air quality, affect businesses in the UK.
Yesterday (May 20) the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) jointly launched a call for evidence seeking views on how the current environmental legislation handed down by the EU works in practice in the UK.
The call for evidence forms a part of the coalition government’s work to assess what powers the European Union has and how these affect lawmaking in the UK, entitled the ‘Review of the Balance of Competences’.
The review was originally announced in July 2012 by Foreign Secretary William Hague, who said that it would ‘take a critical and constructive look’ at whether current EU legislation ‘works in our national interest’.
Its launch comes just days after the government published its parliamentary bill setting the terms for a referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU, which could take place before the end of 2017, casting further doubt on the UK’s future as an EU Member State.
In a written statement to parliament yesterday, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, explained that the call for evidence will cover all areas included in EU environmental legislation including air quality, waste managment, water quality, nature protection and chemicals.
He said: “This report, which will be completed by the end of 2013, will focus on the application and effect of the EU’s competence in relation to the environment and climate change. Much of the UK’s environment and climate change policy is now agreed at EU level, with comparatively few areas remaining exclusively within the competence of member states.
“The resulting report is intended to be a comprehensive, thorough and detailed analysis of EU competence for environment and climate change and what this means for the UK. It will aid our understanding of the nature of our EU membership and will provide a constructive and serious contribution to the wider European debate about modernising, reforming and improving the EU. The report will not produce specific policy recommendations.â€?
Questions in the call for evidence include whether EU environmental policies have benefited the UK, whether decisions should be made at an EU or individual state level or whether there are alternative approaches that the UK could take to tackling climate change.
The call for evidence, which is aimed at stakeholders with ‘relevant knowledge, expertise or experience’, is set to run until August 12.