If Brexit Finally Moves Forward, What Does That Mean For Environmental Law?

According to the Irish government, the Brexit fiasco could give the powers that be greater authority to effect new environmental law — or to disregard old ones. Commentators insist that Brexit won’t have these kind of catastrophic fear-mongering effects and that, for the most part, it will be business as usual once all is said and done. But that’s not necessarily true. 

The Good Friday Agreement promotes cooperation between the north and south, especially in the area of cooperation to protect important environmental locations from damage. The European Union provided the framework for this agreement, and without the former, the latter might fall apart as well.

Waterways Ireland and Loughs Agency remain dedicated to protecting their islands from those who might pollute them. 

Exiting the European Union would effectively dismantle all the regulations and agreements made through it. Not only that, but future funding efforts might be crushed. Part of the new Brexit agreement enables a “level playing field” that would force the United Kingdom to keep the old regulations in place, but it’s no surprise that opponents of Brexit and the unseen future consequences are worried how this will all play out. Without a specific trade deal, there’s no legal obligation.

The United Kingdom released a statement on the new Brexit agreement:

“The Union and UK are determined to work together to safeguard the rules-based international order, the rule of law and promotion of democracy, and high standards of free and fair trade and workers’ rights, consumer and environmental protection, and cooperation against internal and external threats to their values and interests.

“The parties will retain their autonomy and the ability to regulate economic activity according to the levels of protection each deems appropriate in order to achieve legitimate public policy objectives such as public health, animal health and welfare, social services, public education, safety, the environment including climate change, public morals, social or consumer protection, privacy and data protection, and promotion and protection of cultural diversity.”

As you can see, more is at stake than just the environment of countries within the UK.

Part of the agreement is dedicated to maintaining proper fishing standards to ensure continued sustainability of our oceans well into the future.

But there are also big question marks. That’s because there’s no actual legal framework in place to govern anything that happens after Brexit. There are only promises. Citizens of the UK are cautiously optimistic that those promises will be upheld by the politicians in power — but many who don’t support Prime Minister Boris Johnson know that anything is possible these days.