The structure for European cooperation on nuclear issues recently became headline news. It's far from the only factor that will complicate Brexitby Kenneth Armstrong / July 21, 2017 / Leave a comment
With a further round of Brexit negotiations now underway, we are all learning far more about the institutions and processes of EU decision-making than we knew before the June 2016 referendum. Only the other week, the structure for European cooperation on nuclear issues—Euratom—became headline news when it was claimed that withdrawal from this organisation could disrupt access to isotopes uses to treat and detect cancer.
But if you were worried that Brexit might be bad for your health, it is not just the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom that should concern you.
A tangle of regulations
Awareness has been growing that the really difficult part of Brexit is how to manage the UK’s departure from all the institutions, agencies and networks of administrators that make the EU’s rulebook work.
Although it has been clear for some time that the UK intends to replicate existing EU rules and regulations in domestic law—the aim of the ‘Repeal Bill’—it was never going to be enough to simply reproduce these EU rules in UK law. Rules needs structures and systems to operate properly, especially when those rules are intended to work across borders. This is where problems might emerge.
Take one example…
For certain types of medicines, for instance—including those used to treat cancer, diabetes, HIV and neurodegenerative disorders—there is a single European procedure which allows these drugs to be placed on the European market. The European Medicines Agency (EMA), currently based in London but set to be relocated to another EU state after Brexit, carries out the technical assessment of these new drugs.
If a new medicine passes scrutiny, the European Commission grants a market authorisation to the pharmaceutical company that is valid throughout the EU. And because Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are part of the European Economic Area (EEA), market authorisations are also valid in these European states. So, what might happen when the UK leaves the EU?
Companies could leave
An EU market authorisation can only be held by a company based in an EU/EEA state. For companies like AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline which between them employ around 24,000 people in their UK operations, that means transferring existing authorisations to an entity based inside the EU/EEA and outside the UK. New applications would need to be made…