Retained EU Law

As the UK left the EU, it converted – or “cut and pasted”- the body of existing EU law, as it applied to and in the UK prior to the end of the transition period, into domestic law. This prevented thousands of laws from ceasing to apply overnight, and was necessary to provide certainty and stability.

There are (broadly speaking) three categories of retained EU law.

  • Domestic legislation which derives from EU law
  • Directly effective EU legislation (such as regulations)
  • Other EU rights and obligations (the so-called ‘sweeper’ category)

 

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 22 September 2022. The Explanatory Note which accompanies the Bill states that:

The purpose of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill is to provide the  Government with all the required provisions that allow for the amendment of retained EU law (REUL) and remove the special features it has in the UK legal system.

The note goes on to explain that:

The Bill will give effect to policies that were set out in the Benefits of Brexit Report published in January 2022 and the Government's announcement of the review into the substance and status of REUL in September 2021.

To achieve this, the Bill will:

(a) Repeal or assimilate REUL, within a defined scope, by the end of 2023

(b) Repeal the principle of supremacy of EU law from UK law by the end of 2023;

(c) Facilitate domestic courts departing from retained case law;

(d) Provide a mechanism for UK government and devolved administration law officers to intervene in cases regarding retained case law, or refer them to an appeal court, where relevant;

(e) Repeal directly effective EU law rights and obligations in UK law by the end of 2023;

(f) Abolish general principles of EU law in UK law by the end of 2023;

(g) Establish a new priority rule requiring retained direct EU legislation (RDEUL) to be interpreted and applied consistently with domestic legislation;

(h) Downgrade the status of RDEUL for the purpose of amending it more easily;

(i) Create a suite of powers that allow REUL to be revoked or replaced, restated or updated and removed or amended to reduce burdens.

The Bill also repeals the Business Impact Target (BIT) contained in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015. This is an outcome of the Benefits of Brexit Paper published by the Government in January 2022, in response to the ‘Reforming Better Regulation Framework’ consultation

 

Retained EU Law Dashboard

 

The UK government has developed a public dashboard which shows a list of retained EU laws. The dashboard is to be updated on a quarterly basis, as REUL is repealed and replaced, or more REUL is identified.

The list is not intended to provide a comprehensive account of REUL that sits with the competence of the devolved administrations. It may though contain individual pieces of REUL which do sit in devolved areas

The European Scrutiny Committee in the House of Commons has held an inquiry into this work, and published the report Retained EU Law: Where next?

 


 

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