The government will have to trawl through 19,000 EU laws to decide which ones to keep after Brexit.
More than 700 laws have been passed in Brussels in the year since the referendum and Theresa May’s government will need to examine them all before finalising which will be written into UK legislation.
The formerly grandly-titled Great Repeal Bill - now just the Repeal Bill following Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech - will see a new statue book drawn up on the day the UK leaves the EU.
It will create temporary powers to make changes to laws that do not operate properly after Brexit and ensure Parliament has the power to make future changes to legislation.
According to research by Thomson Reuters, the rate of new laws being passed by the EU will continue at the same pace until the UK formally exits the union in March 2019.
“At present, more than 60 new EU laws are being introduced in the UK a month, on average. So more water is flowing into the tub at the same time as we are getting ready to pull the plug,” said Daniel Greenberg, author of Craies on Legislation and Laying Down the Law, both published by Thomson Reuters.
“There is general acceptance in government and Parliament that the Repeal Bill – and the connected flow of specific EU disengagement Bills and statutory instruments – will be the largest legislative project ever undertaken in the UK.”
At least 750 Whitehall policy experts are expected to relocate to the government’s Brexit departments to help tackle the huge workflow.
Among the high-profile Eu-derived laws that will need to be considered are:
- The UK Renewable Energy Strategy: Ensuring 15% of the UK’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2020;
- The Working Time Directive: Giving workers the right to a minimum number of holidays each year and limiting the working week to 48 hours;
- The EU Climate and Energy Package: Looking to fight climate change through a range of measures adopted by EU member states – with special restrictions placed on the UK’s power and manufacturing industries;
- The Temporary Agency Workers Directive: Seeking to give equal rights to agency employees and permanent employees carrying out the same job within a business.
Greenberg added: “The challenge for the government’s Brexit teams is to complete the task by 29 March 2019 – with the body of EU law growing all the time, and with the final desired outcome depending on the constantly shifting expected shape of the deal, or other arrangements, affecting the UK’s relationship with the EU after Brexit.”