North East Connected

Industry Support for EU Membership not Resounding

Cedrec_sales_graduate_logoEnvironmental and health and safety professionals are narrowly in favour of the UK remaining a member of the European Union, according to a new industry poll.

More than 54% of respondents want to remain in Europe, according to a national poll carried out by specialist North East-based legislation consultancy Cedrec. The poll was undertaken among industry specialists with responsibility for implementing European legal requirements across a range of sectors.

However, the poll revealed support for EU membership wasn’t entirely clear cut. While only 36% of respondents voted to leave the EU, there were around 10% of people yet to decide.

Cedrec believes many people may be influenced on which way they vote in the referendum based on whether their jobs are dependent on, or influenced by, the EU. Many of the day to day responsibilities of environment and health and safety professionals directly stem from legal requirements set by Europe.

Richard Clarke, senior EHS consultant at Cedrec, said: “The coming referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU will be one of the big political issues of the next 12 months. The results of our poll suggest a less than resounding level of support for Europe, from those dealing with the legal implications of membership on a daily basis.

“Both sides of the debate will make claims for and against the effects of European membership, from the value of harmonised regulations to the risk of excessive red tape. The concern that stands out from the results is a simple one; does your job depend on European Union membership?

“Every UK industry is influenced by EU Regulations that are directly applicable in UK law, or Statutory Instruments put into law from EU Directives. Whether EU Regulations would remain in force following a ‘Brexit’ is interesting to consider, especially as one of the main platforms of the ‘Out’ campaign is the desire to reduce regulatory burdens on business caused by Europe.

“However, developments in Europe suggest that a legal high tide watershed may have been reached, and that in future, Europe may become a strong force for deregulation. Internally in the EU, the ongoing Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) is reviewing whether Regulations can be removed, or consolidated. In 2014, a total of 53 legislative proposals were withdrawn, with EU REFIT reporting that since 2006, more than 6100 acts have been replaced.

“Also, the negotiations between Europe and America on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP) are setting the parameters for regulatory harmonisation, which may well see many more legal requirements being revoked and a drive towards simplified compliance requirements between Britain and Europe.

“It is early days in the debate, but environment and health and safety professionals should start to consider to what degree Europe will responsible for creating the conditions that support their role, and what a future with either Britain in or out of the EU might look like.”

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