Farm groups welcome U-turn on plan to ditch EU law

Farm groups have welcomed a government U-turn on plans to ditch about 4,000 pieces of EU law by the end of this year.  

The Retained EU Law Bill currently making its way through the House of Lords was set to automatically abolish all EU legislation on 31 December 2023 via a “sunset clause”, unless action was taken to preserve it.

See also: Plan to ditch all EU law poses risk to food standards – NFU

But according to the Financial Times, business secretary Kemi Badenoch told Conservative MPs this week that only about 800 pieces of law would be removed by the end of the year, and there are suggestions that the sunset clause could be removed from the Bill entirely. 

Defra had by far the biggest burden of legislation to consider, with responsibility for more than 1,700 of the pieces of law facing the axe.

Earlier this year, the NFU raised a series of concerns about the plans, claiming the December deadline would put “considerable resource strain” on Defra and pointing out that powers to modify or revoke regulations were being transferred to ministers from parliament.

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Orla Delargy, head of public affairs at food and farming alliance Sustain, said: “It is welcome news that the government might be changing course on this.

“The proposed Bill is a reckless and irresponsible piece of law-making. It risks sweeping away legislation that cover vital protections on a wide range of issues, including environment and food standards, pesticide and antibiotics use and animal welfare.”

However, Ms Delargy went on to say the “central flaw” in the Bill remained.

“The government reportedly wants to scrap 800 laws and we will need to assess what the impact of removing these will be,” she added.

“But will ministers still be able to take these decisions without a consultative process and proper parliamentary scrutiny? We don’t believe this is the right approach to law-making.”

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