Government unable to protect consumer rights states House of Lords Brexit Report
The Government “cannot ensure the protection of UK consumer rights” after the UK leaves the EU, according to the House of Lords EU Justice Committee report published yesterday.
The report and its key findings and concerns, highlighted that a number of EU protections, such as those guarding against unsafe goods or rogue traders, won’t work without membership of key networks and access to cross border cooperation. It also called for a clearer plan on easing pressures on national regulators and expressed concerns that trading standards authorities are struggling to fulfil their important role due to financial restraints - even prior to the added complications and challenges of Brexit.
The committee’s findings echo those of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute Brexit Think Tank and its experts. Transposing EU legislation into UK law will leave gaps within crucial cross-border networks and mechanisms, such as the EU Rapid Alert System for dangerous consumer products (RAPEX). Without the reciprocal relationships and access to such mechanisms, these laws would be unenforceable.
While the committee acknowledges that the UK has had considerable influence within the field of consumer protection, maintaining such protections relies on continued access to EU safety networks.
The report criticises the Government’s inability to provide clear planning, and sets out the urgent need for the Government to produce a clear and detailed plan to show how sufficient cooperation with EU networks and bodies will continue following Brexit.
CTSI Chief Executive, Leon Livermore, gave evidence to the Lords Committee on the 11 July this year, where he described the Government’s Brexit Bill as a “very good starting point”, but said that the “bigger challenges lay in relation to some of the specific references in legislation to European bodies, of which we will cease to be members.”
He concluded: “If you want effective enforcement and you do not want the UK to become a soft target for rogue traders… we need to maintain the protections that we have now.”
Speaking in response to yesterday’s publication, Livermore said: “I whole-heartedly stand by my comments, and am pleased the House of Lords has taken CTSI’s, and other consumer champions’, suggestions on board.”
“CTSI is working closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through our Brexit Think Tank to address the issues raised in this report. With such large changes over the horizon, now is the time to work together, not just on Brexit, but on domestic protection and market surveillance across the board.”