Creagh – Government departments clueless about how much it will cost to replace EU agencies

Government departments have no idea what the cost or staffing requirements would be of replacing the work currently conducted by major EU regulatory agencies, research by Open Britain reveals today.

In the case of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, the UK would immediately cease to participate in many key EU agencies such as the European Aviation Safety Agency, which manages the safety of air travel; the European Food Safety Authority, which maintains high standards of food safety; and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which works to combat cross-border outbreaks of disease.

Even if the Government secures a deal, delays to the EU Withdrawal Bill mean it is unlikely that the UK will have the infrastructure in place to replicate the work of these agencies by March 2019. The UK is currently a member of 39 EU agencies, most of which involve some role for the European Court of Justice. The European Aviation Safety Agency has a budget of €140 million and employs more than 800 staff. The European Medicines Agency has a budget of around €320 million and employs more than 900 staff. 

Following a series of written Parliamentary questions submitted by Mary Creagh MP, not one Government department (including the Department of Health, the Department for Transport and DEFRA) was able to give a clear answer on the levels of funding and staffing that would be required to replace the work done by these agencies.

The Department for Health said: "We are not in a position to speculate on the cost to the public purse and the number of staff required to replicate the relevant functions the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control."

The Department for Transport said it is "considering carefully all the potential implications" of leaving the European Aviation Agency, but was unable to provide an assessment of the cost of establishing a separate body.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it hasn't even been decided if the UK should remain in the European Environment Agency or not, but that: "in taking any decisions on replicating relevant functions, the Government will always look to minimise disruption and cost."  

Commenting, Mary Creagh MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said: 

“The mealy-mouthed answers provided by various departments to my questions are a clear attempt to obscure the truth: the Government is woefully unprepared for Brexit and the wide-ranging impacts it will have on everything from air travel to medicines to food safety.  

“They make a mockery of ministers’ claims that Britain would be perfectly ok if we were to leave with no deal.

“If the Government wrenches our country out of the EU without an agreement, we will end participation with key EU agencies without any clear structures to replace them. This would be a disaster for our country, our economy and our people.

“The Government must negotiate a deal that will keep Britain in vital pan-European agencies, and drop their absurd threat to leave with no deal.”

/ends

Notes to editors:

The full list of questions and answers submitted by Mary Creagh MP to the relevant Government departments can be found here.  

The 39 EU agencies that the UK is currently a member of are as follows:

  • Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators – (ACER)
  • Clean Sky Joint Undertaking – (Clean Sky)
  • Community Plant Variety Office – (CPVO)
  • European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
  • European Atomic Energy Agency (EURATOM)
  • European Aviation Safety Agency – (EASA)
  • European Banking Authority – (EBA)
  • European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
  • European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training – (Cedefop)
  • European Chemicals Agency – (ECHA)
  • European Defence Agency – (EDA)
  • European Environment Agency (EEA)
  • European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA)
  • European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
  • European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound)
  • European GNSS Agency (GSA)
  • European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE)
  • European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)
  • European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA)
  • European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy (F4E)
  • European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)
  • European Medicines Agency (EMA)
  • European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)
  • European Police College (CEPOL)
  • European Police Office (EUROPOL)
  • European Railway Agency (ERA)
  • European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA)
  • European Training Foundation (ETF)
  • European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)
  • European Union Agency for large-scale IT systems (LISA)
  • European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA)
  • European Union Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders (Frontex)
  • European Union Institute for Security Studies(EUISS)
  • European Union Satellite Centre (EU SatCen)
  • European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust)
  • Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU)
  • Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)
  • Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market Trade Marks and Design (OHIM)
  • Office of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BERE)