UK responds to OECD report on international regulatory cooperation

A new call for evidence has been launched on the UK’s international regulatory cooperation practices, in response to a review by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Responding to a recent OECD report on the UK's international regulatory framework, Minister for Corporate Responsibility Lord Callanan presented the government’s response - International Regulatory Cooperation for a Global Britain. The paper welcomes the OECD’s report and sets out how we will promote international regulatory cooperation. 

The paper commits the government to developing specific tools and guidance to policy makers and regulators on how to conduct international regulatory cooperation, as well as to establishing networks to convene international policy professionals from across government and regulators to share experience and best practice on international regulatory cooperation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of regulatory cooperation with the UK’s international partners.

Regulatory decisions in all countries have been vital to protecting the health of the nation during the coronavirus pandemic, including, for example, rules in place to limit the spread of the virus, such as quarantine measures, and travel restrictions.

Meanwhile the emergence of new technologies, which work across borders and have global implications, also mean that regulation is more international than ever. Effective regulation and trade in these technologies is underpinned by international cooperation that enables consistent enforcement across borders and the reduction in regulatory barriers to trade.

As the UK exits the Brexit transition period, EU regulatory frameworks will have to be replaced by UK specific laws and rules. This is set to become a significant challenge for government, especially while the future relationship is still under fraught negotiation. 

Minister for Corporate Responsibility Lord Callanan said:

Good regulation is essential to successful business, and international cooperation will be key as the world continues to recover from the pandemic.

The UK is already recognised as a world leader in this space, but our departure from the European Union presents a golden opportunity to take back control of our regulatory system.

As we move forward with our new start we will work with a wider range of international partners to help solve global issues, reduce regulatory burdens on exporting businesses and promote investment in the UK.

The government invited the OECD to conduct a review into the UK’s regulatory cooperation practices in 2018.

The report found a need for overarching, cross-government strategic vision and systematic practices. While there are some examples of effective regulatory cooperation initiatives being undertaken, these are currently sector specific.

Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, Jeffrey Schlagenhauf, said:

The United Kingdom is at a crucial turning point both for its domestic regulatory processes and its place in the global landscape.

It has been a historic leader in both these fields and is now in a unique position to seize the moment and reaffirm its leadership role. This OECD Review can help the UK to achieve this.

Differences in regulations between countries can create some of the biggest barriers to trade, and tackling global challenges demand collective international action. Regulatory divergence can add costs for importers and exporters, or companies operating across borders. This can be used by protectionist governments to aid domestic industry, but makes industry less competitive.