Internal Market Bill: ‘Significant and centralising impact’ expected
8 October 2020
As the controversial UK Internal Market Bill starts its journey through the House of Lords, a new report for the Senedd by researchers from Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre highlights how the Bill has the potential to make significant changes to the UK’s territorial constitution.
The Bill replaces the framework of EU rules creating an EU-wide internal market, with domestic rules to ensure ‘market access’ across the UK. Until this Bill, no clear legal definition of a domestic internal Market existed. The Bill provides a new legal framework for it, placing significant practical constraints on devolved policy competence – greater than those imposed under EU law.
Under the Bill, except on certain limited grounds, once local regulatory standards applying to goods, services, and professional qualifications are met in one part of the UK, no other part of the UK can insist upon their own different, or higher standards.
The Bill also reserves State Aid policy to the UK Government and gives it new financial powers including for matters for which policy competence is devolved.
The UK Internal Market Bill is the Johnson administration’s first major piece of legislation that governs devolution. If passed into law in its current form it will have a significant, centralising, impact on the balance of the UK territorial constitution.