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The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 (the REUL Act) is intended to end the special status of retained EU law (REUL) within the UK’s legal system. It gives ministers powers to revoke, amend or replace retained EU laws more easily. The REUL Act became law on 29 June 2023. By the end of 2023, UK ministers had made 21 regulations (or SIs/statutory instruments) using these powers and six using powers under other Acts.

REUL ceased to exist as a special category of domestic law on 1 January 2024. Any REUL which remained on the UK statute book became ‘assimilated law’, a new body of law that is interpreted differently from REUL. Most of the powers in the REUL Act also apply to assimilated law.

The Government has said that it is “absolutely committed to taking full advantage of our regulatory freedoms post-Brexit”. It intends to use the powers in the Act to:

ensure that inefficient and bureaucratic retained EU law is removed from the UK statute book or reformed in order to best suit the best interests of the UK.

To enable Parliament to monitor the progress made in revoking and reforming EU-derived laws, the Act requires the Government to update its public database of retained EU laws – the REUL Dashboard – and to publish a report every sixth months until June 2026, the tenth anniversary of the Brexit referendum.

The Government published its updated Dashboard on 22 January 2024 alongside its first REUL reform report covering the period from 29 June to 23 December 2023. 

The updated Dashboard includes 6,757 individual pieces of REUL/assimilated law.

  • A large amount of REUL (nearly 67%) remains unchanged, meaning that ministers have not made substantive policy changes.
  • Over a thousand pieces of REUL have been repealed without being replaced.
  • Around 800 pieces of REUL have been amended or repealed and replaced with new laws that the Government considers have substantially changed the policy intent and effect of the original REUL.
  • A small amount of REUL have expired because the Government says it has ceased to have legal effect.
  • More than 2,000 pieces of REUL have been revoked or reformed to date. The REUL reform report shows that around 700 of these were revoked and a further 22 reformed in 2023.

The REUL reform report sets out a roadmap to revoke or reform half of all REUL by June 2026.

The Government has described the changes it has made to REUL concerning employment rights and the wine sector as “key reforms”. Nonetheless most regulations made under the REUL Act in 2023 have not led to substantive policy changes. The Government expects planned reforms in subsequent reporting periods to bring about “huge improvements to the regulatory environment for UK businesses” as part of its wider Smarter Regulation programme. 

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