UK’s ‘bonfire of EU laws’ could impact on chocolate labelling and marketing legislation

Key EU legislation relating to a raft of economic areas including laws relating to the standardised marketing and labelling of chocolate product ranges is potentially set to be axed under UK government plans, writes Neill Barston.

Yesterday, Westminster MPs voted through the first stage of the controversial EU retained law Bill – which is seeking to remove what it has stated as 2,400 pieces of legislation from the statute books that has remained following Brexit, allowing the business sector to adapt to a new trading environment.

However, the National Archives department has reportedly unearthed further 1,400 pieces of EU legislation, which together includes a broad expanse of subjects, from employment law, through to environmental and employment protections that campaigners, leading business groups, and civil organisations, have feared will lead to a ‘legal black hole’ under government plans of ‘a sunset clause’ to offer until just the end of this year to replace any removed legislation.

The government has claimed the move will enable greater deregulation for industry, though ministers have reportedly been unable to confirm just how many laws impacting on British legislation are being affected in total. But according to national media, a total of 60 groups including the Institute of Directors, National Trust, and Trades Union Congress have stated that the plans would ’cause significant confusion and disruption.”

According to the BBC, commercial law, including legislation governing the marketing and labelling of chocolate is also at stake as part of what media observers have described as a ‘bonfire of EU regulations,’ proposed by the former UK business minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, who described it as ‘a technical Bill of great constitutional importance,” with its core aim of removing the jurisdiction of the EU Courts of Justice over domestic UK law.

However, the EU retained law Bill has encountered considerable opposition in parliament, including from several senior Conservative MPs, including former Brexit minister David Davis, who expressed his considerable reservations on the plans as ‘not democratic, and also inefficient, possibly incompetent.”

Despite his remarks, the Bill passed its initial phase at its third time of reading, and will now be considered shortly by the House of Lords before gaining formal acceptance.

According to one national media report, the government is set to spend tens of millions of pounds across departments in a rushed timescale over the next few months, deciding on which laws, if any, it wishes to retain beyond the end of this year – with a clause that no legislation can be permitted to add to administrative burdens. This has led many industry observers to highlight the fact there are insufficient resources across government departments to complete the task in under a year, leading to many pieces of legislation and potentially consumer protections being eroded by neglect.

Speaking to Confectionery Production, the Food and Drink Federation’s chief scientific officer Kate Halliwell commented that while re-examining regulatory frameworks was welcome, sufficient time to examine legislation must be ensured.

She said: “UK manufacturers make high quality, tasty and safe food and drink that millions love to eat, both here and abroad. While we fully support the need for domestication and consolidation of our laws, we have strong concerns the scale and complexity of the review makes the 31 December sunset challenging to achieve and undermines the ability for governments to give this the proper consideration required.

“For the benefit of producers and consumers it is essential governments across the UK ensure any changes to regulations don’t negatively impact on our food safety or undermine our access to valuable export markets.”


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