Union is strength?

As the UK government reviews the balance of its competences with the European Union, Annie Reece takes a look at how the union has influenced waste policy and how an EU exit would affect UK waste management

This article was taken from Issue 75

In or out? Since the European Union’s inception, one of the hottest topics debated by British politicians has been whether the UK should be a member of the political union or not. 

The topic reached fever pitch in 2013, the 40th-anniversary year of the UK’s membership, when Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he would hold a referendum on whether we should stay in or exit the political partnership (the referendum is set for 2017).

But what would an exit mean for the UK? Michael Warhurst, Senior Campaigner for Economics and Resource Use at Friends of the Earth, explains: “If you want to retain the access to internal markets, you’re leaving to join the EEA (European Economic Area), or you would need a specific set of treaties, like Switzerland has. In both those cases, the UK would actually adopt an awful lot of EU legislation (as laws regarding what comes onto the market would still apply). The crucial difference is that the UK will not be at the negotiating table. 

“That is really important, and what is interesting is that the more Eurosceptic parts of the government are starting to realise that an EU exit could mean that the government would still have to apply European rules, but would have no influence over what they are.”