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MPs assess future of retained EU laws

31 January 2022

The European Scrutiny Committee begins an inquiry into the future of EU law copied into the UK stature book to avoid a legal cliff-edge when the country left the block. 

The move comes after the Government confirmed it will bring forward a ‘Brexit Freedoms’ Bill which looks to ‘end the special status of EU law’.

Rules held-over cover employment rights, consumer protections, health and safety and data protection among others.- 

Chair's comment

Commenting on the new inquiry, Committee Chairman Sir William Cash said, “The transposing of swathes of EU law into UK law following Brexit was never meant to be a permanent solution. It is a stopgap that was ultimately intended to be replaced.

Retained EU law is a unique concept. It creates a complex legal system, over part of which the European Court’s writ remains influential. We’ll examine the fitness of such laws in the UK post-Brexit.

The matter is of great constitutional importance governing swathes of legislation passed over 40 years of membership with the EU. What happens next will determine who should be responsible for the interpretation of legislation in the UK, and how law is reshaped post-Brexit, issues our inquiry will take a great interest in.”

Terms of reference

The Committee welcomes anyone to make written submissions to any of the questions below to the evidence submission page on the Committee website by 14 March.

  1. In what ways is retained EU law a distinct category of domestic law? To what extent does this affect the clarity and coherence of the statute book?
  2. Is retained EU law a sustainable concept and should it be kept at all?
  3. Do the principles and concepts of EU law continue to provide an acceptable and suitable basis for legislation in post-Brexit UK?
  4. How has the concept of retained EU law worked in practice since it came into effect and what uncertainties or anomalies have arisen, or may yet arise in the future?
  5. (a) In light of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, what was the rationale for retaining the principle of the ‘supremacy of EU law’?
    (b) What is the most effective way of removing the ‘supremacy of EU law’ and other incidents of EU law from the statute book?
  6. Should retained EU law be interpreted in the same way as other domestic law? Should the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union have any relevance in the interpretation of retained EU law?
  7. Should a wider range of courts and tribunals have the ability to depart from retained EU case law and should it be binding at all?
  8. To what extent has retained EU law affected devolved competence?
  9. Are there issues specific to the devolved administrations and legislatures that should be taken into account as part of the Government’s reviews into retained EU law?

Further information

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