Taking back control of regulation

Think tank: Institute for Government

Author(s): Joe Marshall; Jill Rutter; Jeremy Mills-Sheehy

May 31, 2021

This report from UK think tank the Institute for Government looks at managing divergence from EU rules.

This report warns that an incoherent government approach to the UK’s post-Brexit regulatory freedoms risks creating new costs for businesses, harming its international trade ambitions and destabilising the union. There are good reasons why the government might want to do things differently to the EU: to better reflect the UK’s specific circumstances or strengths in particular sectors, to promote innovation in emerging technologies such as fintech and life sciences, or just to reflect different policy choices, as with the live animal export ban. But the government should avoid divergence for its own sake and instead weigh up – and be clear on the costs as well as the benefits of its approach.

This report sets out the steps the government should take to deliver the promised benefits of regulatory freedom from the EU and avoid the risks that freedom brings. I It recommends that the government: Sets out clear guidance on how departments should exercise the UK’s new regulatory autonomy Reforms cross-government processes and structures for assessing regulatory proposals Develop a system to keep track of regulatory developments in the EU that will affect the UK Work constructively with the European Scrutiny Committee and Lords European Affairs Committee to agree what information about new EU rules that affect the UK (and the government’s response to them) will be provided to parliament. However, the current weakness and confusion around these mechanisms means the government is poorly placed to make the necessary trade-offs and avoid unintended consequences.