If the UK leaves the European Union it would face a lengthy and expensive “regulationfest” as the Civil Service and private sector scrambled to set up vastly expanded bureaucracies to cope with replacing long-established trade and other legal regulations linked to Brussels, leading lawyers have warned.
A report by Lawyers IN for Britain (LIFB), which is campaigning for the UK to remain part of the EU, claims that “misconceptions” on everything from cutting red tape to the environment and access to international markets, are playing “a pivotal role” in the in-out debate.
John Davies, chair of LIFB, said the aim of the 300-page report was to bypass the “great deal of misinformation” currently dominating the EU debate.
The document’s evidence, he said, had been sourced from the UK government’s own figures, studies by the Bank of England, the UK’s Office for Budget Responsibility, and leading UK universities. Mr Davies added: “The words we hear most from those yet to make up their minds, are ‘give us the facts’. We have done that – and our conclusion is that that the UK is safer, stronger and better off in the EU.”
The LIFB analysis states that a “more informed discussion” is needed before Britain votes in June. Three former EU judges, 24 law professors, 30 QCs and 250 lawyers and academics, including partners in some of the UK’s leading firms, have concluded that the “benefits of EU membership outweigh the burdens”.
What's the European Parliament ever done for us?
What's the European Parliament ever done for us?
1/5 A cap on the amount of hours an employer can make you work
The Working Time directive provides legal standards to ensure the health and safety of employees in Europe. Among the many rules are a working week of a maximum 48 hours, including overtime, a daily rest period of 11 hours in every 24, a break if a person works for six hours or more, and one day off in every seven. It also includes provisions for paid annual leave of at least four weeks every year
2/5 Helping the people of Britain to avoid smoking
In 2014 MEPs passed the Tobacco Products Directive strengthening existing rules on the manufacture, production and presentation of tobacco products. This includes things like reduced branding, restrictions on products containing flavoured tobacco, health warnings on cigarette packets and provisions for e-cigarettes to ensure they are safe
3/5 Helping you to make the right choices with your food
Thanks to the European Parliament, UK consumers have access to more information than ever about their food and drink. This includes amount of fat, and how much of it is saturated, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and so on. It also includes portion sizes and guideline daily amount information so people can make informed choices about their diet. All facts must be clear and easy to understand
4/5 Two year guarantees and 14-day returns policy for all products
Consumers across the EU have access to a number of rights, from things which are potentially very useful, to things which used to be annoying. For example, shoppers in the UK receive a two-year guarantee on all products, and a 14-day period to change their minds and return a purchase, these things are useful
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5/5 Keeping your air nice and fresh (and safe)
Believe it or not, although the situation is improving, some areas of the UK have appalling air quality. A report by the Royal College of Physicians released on 23 February says 40,000 deaths are caused by outdoor air pollution in the UK every year. Air pollution is linked to a number of illnesses and conditions, from Asthma to diabetes and dementia. The report estimates the costs to British business and the health service add up to £20 billion every year
Among the lengthy list of misconceptions discussed, is the assumption that a Brexit would mean a reduction in rules, regulations and red tape. “This is the biggest misconception,” said Martin Coleman, one of the LIFB lawyers who contributed to the report. “Thousands upon thousands of new UK rules and regulations will be needed if the UK leaves. Separate international, bilateral and individual trade deals will need to be negotiated and drafted. New UK rules will still need to comply with many of the existing European rules. Far from offering a reduction in rules, the UK will be engaged in a ‘regulationfest’, needing a swollen Whitehall and an expansion in government lawyers, advisers and bureaucrats.”
Although UK lawyers would have a short-term surge in work, as the UK decouples from 40 years of legal links to Brussels, one of the report’s authors said: “It would be like doctors saying a plague was keeping them busy, but ultimately the outlook on patient numbers wouldn’t be good.”
Other misconceptions, the report says, includes the notion that the EU prevents the UK from making its own laws. The report says the UK parliament has remained sovereign, and that the “common rules” of the EU ensure UK businesses and citizens are not discriminated against.
The report also identifies confusion over the role of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Council, which would not be altered by Brexit.
On the notion that Brussels limits the reach of London’s City markets, and that freeing the UK from the EU would increase Britain’s international trade influence, the report says a minimum of 50 EU trade agreements with other countries would need immediate renegotiation.Reuse content