How the EU benefits UK environmental policy
Researchers at the Tyndall Centre have informed the UK Government’s Balance of Competences review of the many ways in which European Union (EU) environmental policy affects the UK.
They reveal that the EU has very significantly affected (or ‘Europeanised’) many fundamental aspects of UK policy on the environment and climate change.
Today, almost all ‘national’ environmental policy is made by, or in close association with, the EU. The EU’s influence vastly exceeds that of the other supranational organizations such as the UN and the OECD. Among other things it has raised environmental standards across many areas, led to much more scientific monitoring and hence more public information, and greatly enhanced the UK’s ability to exert international leadership on broad issues such as climate change.
They warn that no state has ever left the EU before. Therefore the uncertainties created by even discussing the possibility of withdrawal are potentially very substantial. Given what it is at stake, it is therefore important that different scenarios are clearly identified and transparently evaluated. One is possibly moving from EU to EEA membership, in which case Norway offers a valuable example of how the future dynamics of policy making may operate.
The Balance of Competences Review stems from a commitment made in the 2010 Coalition agreement. It aims to deepen public understanding of the nature of EU membership, and provide a constructive contribution to the wider European debate about how to modernise, reform and improve the EU in the face of collective challenges.