The EU’s lowering of food safety standards must end talk of alignment

26 June 2021

10:28 PM

26 June 2021

10:28 PM

During the referendum, it was fashionable to pretend that being an EU member did not impact sovereignty. That is wrong as a matter of law. EU member states do surrender, or pool, sovereignty. The political argument is whether or not you think it is worth giving up some sovereignty for EU membership – that is your choice.

But these arguments have been dealt a huge blow by the EU. The EU has decided to lower food safety standards and allow farm animals (who normally eat grass) to eat bits of each other.

In April the EU decided that once again chickens may be fed pig, pigs may be fed chickens and sheep and cows may be fed to other farm animals. Some MEPs objected, but they have now lost. The EU is going to be rolling back the animal welfare standards put in place to stop BSE. They will remain banned in the UK.

After the referendum, despite the result, it became fashionable to argue for the UK to nonetheless follow EU law. Part of this argument was hidden. It is perfectly normal for people and goods entering a foreign territory to be made to follow the laws of that territory. But what is not normal is for the goods and people who stay behind, to have to follow the foreign law.

I wrote on this issue as a matter of law and it is fair to say the EU seems to think it is normal for it, as a foreign state, to make the law of other foreign states. It is equally fair to say that no one else takes this view.

But it should surprise no one that the EU simply carries on demanding the power to make our law – it is not obviously capable of change.

And it has used a variety of tricks to try to make us follow its law. It threatened to cut off electricity to Jersey. Then there were the warships sent to Jersey, threats to our vaccine supply, unilaterally putting up a border in Northern Ireland and various unfounded threats to sue.

All of this is part of the arsenal the EU deploys to make foreign states do as it says. How you think about that is just as much a political question as it has ever been. Some will advocate re-joining, some advocate staying out but following EU law anyway and some resist.

But those advocating re-joining or simply following EU law without having a say have a very real legal problem now – one we call divergence. The EU has diverged from our food standards. Lord Frost is currently under siege to agree what the EU now calls ‘dynamic SPS alignment’. That would mean the UK following EU laws – same principle, different name.

To give in to those EU demands, Lord Frost would have to agree to drop our own food safety standards to pre-BSE levels of protection. Will he? And do you want him to? If we were Members, we would have no choice. If we agree this ‘SPS alignment’ we give up our power to choose again.

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