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Retained EU Law: Do you understand what it is all about?


Retained EU Law: Do you understand what it is all about?

If you are still trying to understand what the significance to the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022-23 is, then this Commons Library Research Briefing Commons Library Research Briefing is a good starting point.

The Summary may answer some of your questions such as:

  • What is retained EU law (REUL)?
  • Why is the Government revisiting REUL?
  • What were the Government’s constitutional concerns?
  • What does the Bill do?
  • What is the significance of these changes?

In commenting on the significance of the Bill. It states:

“It is difficult to assess the impact this Bill will have on the substantive law of the UK. If it is enacted, and nothing is done legislatively thereafter, vast reams of REUL would fall away at the end of 2023. This would create precisely the “gaps” in domestic law the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 was designed to avoid. This is a very unlikely outcome, however.

It is more plausible that the different powers in the Bill, to preserve, restate, replicate, revoke, replace and update parts of REUL, will be used extensively before the end of the sunset period.

What is difficult to predict, however, is exactly how those powers will be used, and which powers the UK Government (and devolved authorities) will rely on most heavily. The complexity of the new legislative regime could create some degree of legal uncertainty in policy areas heavily impacted by REUL.

This Bill would enable far more decisions about the content of REUL to be taken by the UK and devolved executives, rather than by legislatures. Moreover, to the extent legislatures are still involved, those decisions would be taken with less oversight than there is at the moment.

Organisations including the Hansard Society and Public Law Project have expressed concerns about Parliament being marginalised.”


The Briefing notes that the current Bill goes considerably further than had been indicated in the December 2021 Ministerial Statement and completely overhauls the constitutional architecture of REU. The speed at which the changes are proposed to be introduced are a real cause for concern which may result in the possibility of gaps leaving uncertainty for businesses. Another likely outcome will be that differences between each of devolved nations will widen. Time will tell if the Bill proceeds given the change in Prime Minister.