Brexit and environmental law constitutes one of the most challenging areas of the divorce negotiations by the United Kingdom. In many ways, EU environmental law developed organically in areas where EU member states felt that common standards would be useful because differing standards would have a direct effect on the internal market. It is also one of the areas that was decisively shaped by the United Kingdom through the introduction into environmental legislation of market mechanisms previously unknown to the administrative legal systems of civil law that governed continental Europe. As such, this area is perhaps more difficult to negotiate because the expectation would be that the United Kingdom will still trade with the European Union, but perhaps intends to lower its own environmental standards, which would in turn give the United Kingdom a competitive advantage. The paper analyzes the impact that the United Kingdom had on the development of EU environmental law.

Part of Series

Brexit: The International Legal Implications is a series examining the political, economic, social and legal storm that was unleashed by the United Kingdom’s June 2016 referendum and the government’s response to it. After decades of strengthening European integration and independence, the giving of notice under article 50 of the Treaty on European Union forces the UK government and the European Union to address the complex challenge of unravelling the many threads that bind them, and to chart a new course of separation and autonomy. Brexit necessitates a deep understanding of its international law implications on both sides of the English Channel, in order to chart the stormy seas of negotiating and advancing beyond separation. The paper series features international law practitioners and academics from the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and Europe, explaining the challenges that need to be addressed in the diverse fields of trade, financial services, insolvency, intellectual property, environment and human rights.
  • Markus Gehring is a CIGI senior fellow focusing on international economic law, trade and climate change, as well as trade, investment and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He is also the Arthur Watts Senior Research Fellow in Public International Law with the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and a fellow of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge.

  • Freedom-Kai Phillips is a CIGI fellow who contributes to research on climate change, clean technology and sustainable development.