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EU-UK TCA - what does it mean for the EU's Precautionary Principle?

View profile for Julie Robinson
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The precautionary principle generally puts a check on decision-making when scientific evidence about an environmental hazard is uncertain and the risks are potentially high, while critics would argue that it can hold back innovation and progress. It is a core principle of EU law.

It will still apply in the UK, but not because we are bound by EU law. It applies because in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement the UK has committed to respect the precautionary approach, an internationally recognised environmental principle.

In any event, the Environment Bill, currently making its way through parliament, explicitly introduces a set of environmental principles and requires the Government to produce a policy statement which explains how those principles should be interpreted and applied by ministers when making policy. The precautionary principle appears in the list, as does the “polluter pays” principle.

We await the draft policy statement, to see how the Government interprets the principle and envisages it being applied. 

For further information, please contact Julie Robinson or any member of the Roythornes Agriculture Team.