The government’s preparations for regulatory trade negotiations are less advanced than they should be. Discussions are still taking place within government on the UK’s position on a number of important regulatory issues. This creates a real risk that the government will be pushed into making concessions it shouldn’t – or will fail to make concessions it should. The government should address this by making sure it knows what it is willing to accept and what would cause it to walk away from the table.
The government will find it easier to resist pressure from trading partners if it has a more coherent idea of its regulatory strategy. While all regulations are different, there are often common principles underlying them (for example, the precautionary principle). Some governments have set out their strategy as regards these cross-cutting issues in public documents, such as the European Commission’s 2000 Communication on the Precautionary Principle. The UK should do the same as a way of setting its independent regulatory policy on a solid footing.