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Transfer 'must not add to costs' says minister

Talks planned as Green denies EU power grab

Damian Green

Damian Green: more powers will be devolved


Government minister Damian Green is to hold talks with the devolved governments on the transfer of powers from the EU, insisting they will gain more decision-making authority.

In a move clearly aimed at quelling concerns that Westminster is attempting a power grab, Mr Green commented on a list of policy areas that will be repatriated to Britain.

He said powers will transfer to Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast “but not if they add to costs for companies, workers and customers”.

The list contains 111 policy areas concerning Scotland and 64 for Wales  respectively that are currently controlled by the EU.

“We want to continue to work with the Scottish and Welsh Governments to make sure we are all ready to take on these new responsibilities when we leave the EU,” said Mr Green in a statement from the UK Cabinet Office. 

“The important thing now is to work our way through these lists and find the areas where we will need to maintain a common UK or GB approach, as well as those areas where it will make sense to transfer powers direct to the devolved governments. When it is better to devolve then that is what we will do, as we have done for the last 20 years.

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Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast will receive more decision making powers as a result of this process.

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“The Repeal Bill aims to maximise certainty for individuals and businesses as we leave the EU. The UK Government stands ready to listen to those who offer improvements to the Bill – but we will do nothing that risks undermining the benefits of the UK.

Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast will receive more decision making powers as a result of this process.

“But the UK Government will not risk our internal UK market, or make life more difficult or more expensive for UK companies, workers or consumers.

“We all observe the same broad EU rules now. Doing things four different ways – in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – will not be the best way if it adds costs to companies and customers across the UK. 

“I hope and expect that we can make progress in the talks that are planned for the coming week.’

The Cabinet office game a list of examples of where a common approach across the UK could help companies and customers across the UK: 

Food labelling

At the moment, foods placed on the market across the EU have common labelling requirements that are set by harmonised EU legislation. If Britain does not agree to continue a common approach to labelling, different requirements could spring up in the different countries of the UK.

This could mean a jam producer wanting to sell their product in Dundee and in Bristol would have to comply with two different labelling requirements – increasing production costs and discouraging cross-border trading.  Divergent food labelling requirements could also make it more difficult to enter into trade deals.  

Infectious diseases in animals

EU law creates an alert system when infectious diseases like Foot and Mouth Disease break out, as well as wider disease prevention and control measures.  This is regarded as an example of where common working practices will be needed for safety reasons, and where the UK government believes it necessary to work together to ensure that differing (lower) standards in one part of Great Britain do not put another part at risk. 

Consistency is also seen as necessary for commercial reasons – to ensure that the UK is able to broker and maintain trade deals and ensure that farmers in Scotland can sell their livestock in England and Wales.  

Chemicals regulation

EU law requires manufacturers and importers to put chemical products on the market with the aim also of protecting human health and the environment. This is an example of where Britain is likely to need a common approach after it leaves the EU, says the Cabinet Office.

For example if the UK didn’t have consistent regulations on chemicals across the UK it could mean that cleaning products made in Wales might be subject to differing regulatory requirements in England and their sale there could be restricted.

This would lead to additional labelling costs for manufacturers and importers and subsequently might cause prices to rise for the public as well as confusion about which products could be used where. Not having consistent rules across the UK would make it complicated for Britain to meet its international obligations and make trade deals. 

Environmental policy – Pesticides

EU Law requires the UK to maintain consistent rules on how pesticides can be used across the UK. This is likely to need a common framework to help protect the environment and ensure consumer safety.

Westminster says that without a common approach it is possible that a crop grown in one part of the UK could not be sold or used in another part due to differing rules on pesticides.  A framework would help to make sure that wheat grown in Wales can continue to be sold to bake bread in England.

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