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OECD Report of International Regulatory Co-operation in the UK

Volume 679: debated on Wednesday 2 September 2020

My right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Climate Change and Corporate Responsibility) Lord Callanan has today made the following statement:

I am today publishing the Government response to a review by the Organisation of Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) into the UK’s international regulatory co-operation practices. This includes launching a call for evidence targeted at UK regulators, standard bodies and industry groups to understand their priorities for greater regulatory co-operation, and how the Government can help support and leverage their engagement in support of the UK’s wider national interest.

International regulatory co-operation (IRC) is about understanding the implications of regulation beyond national borders. It provides an important opportunity for countries to adapt their regulations to the rapidly evolving needs of a globalised world and to influence the regulation of others. In practical terms, this involves shaping and complying with international agreements, utilising international evidence and collaborating with international partners when designing and enforcing regulations.

For the UK, consideration of IRC is increasingly important given we are at a critical juncture for the country and our regulatory policy. We are seeking to build on our global ambitions now that the UK has left the European Union and is taking back regulatory competencies. In tandem, we are developing our own independent trade policy for the first time in almost fifty years. The emergence of new technologies, which are global in their scale and implications, also means that regulation is more international than ever. Effective regulation in these technologies underpinned by international co-operation enables consistent enforcement across borders and opens up trade opportunities by the reduction in non-tariff barriers.

In light of this, in 2018 the Government invited the OECD—as the leading authority on regulatory policy—to conduct a review into the UK’s IRC practices. The resulting OECD report finds that there is no overarching, cross-Government strategic vision and systematic practices in place in relation to IRC. And while there are some examples of effective regulatory co-operation initiatives being undertaken by our world-renowned regulators, overall, this is sporadic and sector specific.

The report makes 25 recommendations to address this across three broad categories which are: building a holistic IRC vision, a strategy and political leadership for IRC in the UK; embedding IRC more systemically in regulatory management tools; and increasing awareness and understanding about IRC across departments and regulators.

The document I am publishing today “International Regulatory Cooperation for a Global Britain”, sets out our response to these recommendations. It welcomes the OECD’s report and sets out the programme of work my Department will be undertaking to drive a systematic focus on IRC across Government and regulators by:

developing a whole-of-Government international regulatory co-operation strategy, which sets out the policies, tools and respective roles of different departments and regulators in facilitating this;

embedding international regulatory co-operation considerations within the better regulation framework and other government guidance;

developing specific tools and guidance to policy makers and regulators on how to conduct international regulatory co-operation; and

establishing networks to convene international policy professionals from across government and regulators share experience and best practice on international regulatory co-operation.

The call for evidence we are launching as part of this response aims to understand where regulators, standards bodies and industry groups already engaged in IRC, their priorities for where they would like to see greater IRC and how the Government can aid them identify and pursue opportunities.

The UK has a proud tradition of better regulation in ensuring that regulation is proportionate, targeted, transparent, accountable and consistent. Adopting a more international approach continues this by helping to reduce regulatory burdens on our exporting businesses and ensuring more effective regulatory outcomes for society. IRC will play a critical role in delivering on the Government vision of a global Britain that is a responsible international actor playing a constructive role in tackling issues of collective global responsibility, and a champion of free trade that seeks to counter the growing proliferation of non-tariff barriers.

The results of the call for evidence will be used to inform the development of the Government international regulatory co-operation strategy to be published at a future date, on which I will update the House.