Brexit and regulation

The most immediate and significant challenge is to determine the future of regulation for chemical and chemistry-using industries as the UK leaves the European Union (EU). The Council believes it will be essential to secure the correct balance between future regulatory alignment and flexibility, to not only ensure future EU market access with limited additional cost but also the opportunity to drive the same, if not more effective, economic, social and environmental outcomes through a more pragmatic and proportionate approach.

In many regulatory areas – for example, the safety regimes governing our plants and factories and the REACH regulation addressing our substances and products – the focus should be on retaining alignment with the EU regulatory framework and retaining an influencing role for UK expertise in the future development of those regulations.

The ‘Innovation Principle

In other areas we believe there is an opportunity to build on the UK’s well-earned reputation for a proportionate and pragmatic risk-based approach to regulation. The UK is one of the more receptive European environments for the “new” and the “innovative” – be it nanotechnology and related materials; hydrogen economy or shale gas. But more can be done. So as we look ahead to linking the challenges and opportunities presented by the Government’s Industrial Strategy, its 25 Year Environment Plan and its Clean Growth Strategy, we believe there is an opportunity to embed an “Innovation Principle” in UK Law. First proposed by the European Risk Forum in 2013, this principle would mean that whenever policy or regulatory decisions are under consideration, the impact on innovation as a driver for jobs and growth would be assessed and addressed. The Innovation Principle should therefore be complementary to the Precautionary Principle, balancing precaution and innovation – protecting society, the environment and the ability to innovate.

Summary of Regulation priorities

The Chemistry Council will work with Government and through relevant trade associations and other key stakeholders to:

  •  create a regulatory climate and culture that strengthens international competitiveness and growth and drives social and environmental progress
  • secure the appropriate balance between retaining future regulatory alignment as we exit the European Union and pursuing a more flexible regulatory approach beyond exit, to drive more effective economic, social and environmental outcomes.
  •  encourage the adoption of an “Innovation Principle” in UK law, ensuring that the impact on innovation as a driver of jobs and growth is addressed and assessed when considering policy or regulatory decisions