Regulatory alignment and divergence after Brexit

17 Jul 2018

The United Kingdom (UK) has launched the process by which it will terminate its membership of the European Union (EU). A key research question concerns the extent to which UK regulatory policy will align with, or diverge from, EU policy after decades of delegation to, and dependency upon EU rules and regulatory structures. While we ought to expect that UK regulatory policy will continue to align with the EU in the short-term, the scope for future divergence requires further analysis. Whether exiting the EU will lead to regulatory alignment or regulatory divergence is evaluated in light of existing literatures on Europeanisation, in general, and the EU’s external governance, in particular. It is contended that the dynamics of alignment/divergence between the UK and EU will be a function of the operation – and interaction – of different modes of governance: hierarchy, markets, coordination and networks/community. However, the study cautions against assumptions that the dynamics of UK regulatory policy post-membership are reducible solely to EU influences. More specifically it contends that the global regulatory context in which both the UK and EU are situated constitutes an important factor that will mediate EU influence over UK policy.