UK launches post-Brexit review of EU laws

London, United KingdomUpdated: Sep 16, 2021, 09:19 PM IST
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Brexit minister David Frost told the upper chamber House of Lords that the special status accorded retained EU law would be abolished as part of the review

From a ban on imperial measures to rules governing artificial intelligence, the UK government on Thursday announced a far-reaching review of EU-era legislation that it plans to ditch after Brexit.

When the UK's divorce from the European Union took full effect in January, "retained EU law" remained dominant to ensure continuity after five decades of membership of the bloc.

But the government said it was the right time for parliament and courts to reassert control over all legislation.

Brexit minister David Frost told the upper chamber House of Lords that the special status accorded retained EU law would be abolished as part of the review.

"But we are going to make this a comprehensive exercise and I want to be clear: our intention is eventually to amend, to replace, or to repeal all that retained EU law that is not right for the UK," he said.

The announcement came a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson reshuffled his cabinet, in part, he said, to maximise the opportunities of Brexit.

But the announcement risks new clashes with Brussels, with the government saying it intends to replace the EU's data protection regime with new UK-specific legislation. 

GDPR -- the EU's General Data Protection Regulation -- has become a de facto global standard for companies trading online, and underpins an agreement allowing UK firms to exchange data held on EU customers.

Cars and farms

Should the UK's new data regime stray too far from GDPR, it risks being frozen out of the EU online market. 

But Frost said: "We intend to create a pro-growth, trusted data rights regime, more proportionate and less burdensome than the EU's GDPR."

The UK overhaul will also encompass AI, including EU regulations that require a human review of companies' use of algorithms should customers seek one, for instance if they are turned down for a loan application.

Frost, however, said the government's first "National AI Strategy", currently in the works, would "set out our plans to supercharge the UK's AI ecosystem and set standards which will lead the world".

The review will look too at "modernising outdated EU vehicle standards", the government said, to leverage innovations in autonomous maritime vessels, self-driving cars and drones.

Farming will be another area for reform as the UK looks at EU-inherited regulations around gene-edited organisms, potentially easing the way for more post-Brexit trade deals with the United States and others.

And the government said it would review an EU ban on product markings and sales in imperial rather than metric units. 

While in practice the pint glass for beer remains the standard for UK pubs, since 2007 the royal "crown stamp" was not allowed on new glasses, in preference to an EU "conformity" stamp.

The main opposition Labour party said instead of touting future legislative opportunities, the government should address current problems related to Brexit.

An exodus of EU nationals has created a shortage of lorry drivers in Britain, and businesses complain of stifling red tape now that the country is out of the bloc's single market.