10 EU laws that risk being lost through Brexit


If you’re able to cast your mind back through the deluge of debates and defeated parliament votes to before the Brexit referendum, you may remember that a cornerstone of the leave campaign was the ‘fact’ that 60% of UK Law is influenced by the EU.

Like many of the dubious statistics thrown around on both sides of the campaign, this isn’t strictly true. Indeed, depending on the weight ascribed to various laws and how you define ‘influence’, that figure varies wildly from 13 – 65%.

Still, while we can realistically hope (fingers crossed) that our fundamental rights will still be in place after the Brexit process, there’s still no real certainty on what will happen next. Here are ten of the laws that we would definitely miss if we crashed out of the EU without them.

  1. Free movement in the Union

Breezing through the electronic gates at passport control could be a thing of the past if the UK opts out of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, as could the automatic right to travel and work in any EU country.

  1. Protecting our human rights

While some may view the European Convention on Human Rights as interfering with the UK Supreme Court, this legislation states an individual’s right to non-discrimination and ensures that all EU member states behave democratically.

  1. Maximum weekly working hours

It’s illegal for your employer to force you to work more than 48 hours a week on average, thanks to EU law. Slightly worryingly, the UK is one of a handful of countries (alongside Estonia and Bulgaria), where it is common for employers to ask their staff to opt-out of the directive anyway.

  1. Reducing banking risks

Could the reason that the UK economy has been relatively stable (if sluggish) since the 2008 recession be anything to do with the 2013 EU Capital Requirements Regulation? This reduces the risk of banks going insolvent by ensuring they hold sufficient capital and have adequate risk controls in place.

  1. Committing to renewable energy

It’s thanks to an EU Renewable Energy Directive (2009) that the UK has committed to fulfilling at least 20% of the EU’s energy needs with renewables by 2020. We might be enjoying the climate change-induced heat waves at the moment, but they’re also a worrying indicator of the direction we’re headed in without measures to reduce our environmental footprint.

  1. Rights for temporary agency workers

The Directive on Temporary Agency Work (2008) provides a minimum effective level of protection for agency workers. If you’re hired through an agency, this means you’re entitled to the same pay and conditions as other employees in the business who do the same job. It also aims to increase confidence in the temporary sector as a whole, improving opportunities for flexible working.

  1. The ability to ‘roam like at home’

The scrapping of roaming charges for EU citizens across Europe was a small and mighty change to legislation that set instagrammers and travellers alight. It’s a little perk that we’d certainly miss if it was taken away now.

  1. The right to clean water

When not busy stockpiling toilet roll, UK residents are concerned about the quality of water they can expect post-Brexit. Our current high-quality water supply is in part thanks to the Drinking Water Directive (1998), which has upgraded drinking water standards and increased transparency to provide consumers with timely, adequate information.

  1. The Common Agricultural Policy

This controversial policy won’t be missed by everyone, but the UK farming sector is likely to mourn the loss of 55% of its income if no alternative is put in place. One aim of the policy is to prevent food shortages by ensuring stable conditions for farmers.

  1. The perfect banana

If you’ve ever wondered who you have to thank for never paying full price for a misshapen banana, look no further than EU Commission Regulation 2257/94. Under this directive, bananas must be “free from malformation or abnormal curvature” to be considered class 1 quality in EU trade. If you’re interested in minimising food waste by consuming harder to love food, defected bananas are sold as class 2.


Okay, it might not be too much of an adjustment to overlook the bananas, but with clean water, banking security and our human rights all in part dictated by EU law, are we really ready to let go?

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