What does the Environment Bill mean for UK-EU relations?

Two parliamentary committees have now examined the draft clauses of the Environment Bill and found it severely lacking. In their final reports, both the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee and the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) indicate that the proposed environment protections after Brexit would not meet current EU standards.

As they stand, the bill’s provisions to set up a green watchdog and to establish environmental principles in domestic law after Brexit represent a “significant regression” on the status quo, according to the EFRA Committee.

That matters because the Northern Irish backstop, the most contentious part of the draft EU withdrawal agreement, would require the UK to commit to non-regression on environmental matters. Under the backstop, the government would also have to adopt equivalent new green regulations in order to maintain a ‘level-playing field’ with the EU.

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