Unelected peers demand Boris Johnson change on ONE Brexit red line to secure trade deal
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Peers in the House of Lords outlined the risks as they said that a failure to find common ground on setting an environmental level playing field could be “critical”. The concerns were set out by the House of Lords EU Environment Sub-Committee as they urged the Government to take account of the priorities of the UK industry.
The UK-EU political declaration agreed in October 2019, included commitments not to reduce environmental and climate protection and ensure a “level playing field” of common high standards.
The UK and the EU have set out world-leading policies to radically reduce emissions in the form of net-zero and carbon-neutral targets.
But despite this common ground, both parties are struggling to agree on deals regarding the environment and food safety.
It comes after the latest round of Brexit talks ended in stalemate last month with concerns over fishing water and the “level playing field.”
In a letter to Environment Secretary George Eustice, peers said that a level playing field would give the UK a lever to make sure that the EU did not “backslide” on its climate ambitions and commitments.
They stressed that the UK government must build trust with EU colleagues by strengthening its Environment Bill.
As well as this, the committee stressed that it should work with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on approaches to show how the UK will deliver high environmental ambitions.
Lord Teverson, chair of the committee, claimed that there is room for an agreement which would not restrict the UK.
He said in the letter: “The lack of trust between the UK and EU is a key barrier to reaching an agreement.
“We recommend that you seek to build trust with the EU by reviewing Government policy positions that are giving mixed signals, such as the absence of a non-regression clause in the Environment Bill and the potential reduction in UK food standards as a consequence of the UK’s trade policy.
“The environmental level playing field still appears to be a stumbling block in negotiations.
“The UK and EU have similarly ambitious aspirations so it should be possible to find common ground.
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“Failure to reach an agreement could have a critical impact.
“There is room for an agreement which addresses the EU’s concerns without restricting the UK’s ability to increase ambition or choose different policies to achieve the same goals.
“I hope that a way forward is found.”
Scotland is already attempting to stay linked with the EU environmentally by passing a bill which will allow Scottish ministers a discretionary power to align Scots law with EU environment legislation after Brexit.
Scottish Constitution Secretary Mike Russell said a new Bill at Holyrood will mean, on devolved matters, Scottish law can keep in line with those in Europe “when appropriate and practicable to do so”.
The UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill will include provisions to ensure EU environmental principles and governance can continue in Scotland.
The discretionary power will come into effect after the transition period ends on December 31.
In response, a UK Government spokeswoman told Express.co.uk: “We have been clear in all of our trade negotiations that we will not compromise on our high environmental protection standards.
“The UK is taking a leading global role in tackling climate change, and through our flagship Environment Bill we will drive change which not only ensures our world-leading standards are maintained but also enhanced.”
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