What are the implications of the Retained EU Law (REUL) on the engineering & technology sector?

At the IET we are looking to comment on the Retained EU Law (REUL), which is having its 2nd reading in the House of Lords on 6 February, having already progressed through the House of Commons.  The essence of the Bill is that EU law that has been adopted in the UK will automatically expire on 31 December 2023 unless specifically retained by the UK.  REUL also gives more extensive power to Ministers to decide what laws to retain without the usual parliamentary scrutiny.

I’d like to get your thoughts on the potential impact of REUL in your own sector, with specific evidence where possible.  My questions are:

  1. Does the prospect of losing EU law have direct / indirect implications for your engineering / technology sector?
  2. If so, in which particular areas, to what extent and who will it impact?
  3. Would you welcome the deregulation of engineering and technology safety practices?
  4. What are your suggestions on the best way forward with the legislation?

 Thank you for your responses.

  • From my own point of view, construction design / manufacturing the biggest potential impact I think would be CDM. It isn’t easy to interpret what is being looked at and what the status means, lack of real clarity is indeed an issue.

    Of those colleagues I discuss with in construction regards CDM I see two sides. Those that believe the BSA (Building Safety Act) deliberately shares terminology with CDM but (I’m told) doesn’t directly cross reference it, thus setting up for the removal of CDM. After which we would revert to the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, with more critical issues covered by the BSA and subsequent related legislation. Generally this is aligned with an opinion that CDM is red tape and isn’t needed beyond what was already implied in the HASAWA 1974,
    The other viewpoint I see is that BSA is directly dependent on CDM, and CDM underpins modern safety in construction so CDM couldn’t possibly be withdrawn.

    While I believe we need CDM , and that is isn’t as onerous as many many people make it, I think it would be naïve to assume it couldn’t be withdrawn, and my brief detailed read throughs of the BSA don’t to me inextricably tie it to CDM though I don’t claim to be an expert on legislation.

    This is of course just one law, and perhaps exemplifies the problem with the REUL, many laws are complex and have strong differing opinions behind them.

    My cynical side tells me that to be able to laude the success of Brexit politicians will find reasons to say they have removed red tape (whether true or not) and small tweaks at least to high profile EU derived laws are probably a strong likelihood. The politicians need the REUL even if it is kicked down the line a bit.

    That being said, would it perhaps be worth looking at some high profile EU laws to flag how red tape or barriers could be removed without affecting safety, ie that these political tweaks are directed making the assumption some will be changed.

  • Hi Dylan,

    I would just add that as I understand it CDM won't be affected as it is UK law. This bill is only intended to affect EU regulations which have not been individually adopted into UK law.

    Thanks, Andy 

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  • Hi Andy, I have had this pointed out to me, and I dont claim to be an expert on legislation, however CDM is listed on the REUL dashboard, showing as "unchanged" though recently changed from "No" to "Yes" under "New or amended Entry", that lack of clarity again.

  • Hi Andy, my layman question is that even if CDM per se isn't affected, could construction working practices be impacted due to changes that may take place in other legislation (eg working at height, asbestos etc)?  There seems to be a concerning lack of clarity due to the speed with which the legislation is going through its stages, and a lack of robust consultation with industry over which statutes we need to keep and which could be adapted over time.  I fear that setting an arbitrary deadline, and removing legislation unless explicitly agreed, is a recipe for loopholes and tragedies.