The Prime Minister’s speech
in Florence stated that the UK and EU share a commitment to high environmental standards, and outlined her preference for a new economic relationship that is underpinned by those standards. However, the UK’s recent position paper
on Northern Ireland and Ireland made only one mention of the environment, simply referencing it as one of the six areas of co-operation agreed by the North South Ministerial Council as established under the Good Friday Agreement. As such, it failed to fully appreciate the broad range of cross-border environmental matters, such as cross-border river basins, that could be affected by Brexit. Although the latest round of Brexit negotiations apparently
saw a recognition on the UK side that cross-border co-operation between Northern Ireland and Ireland is built on the EU legal framework, the details of the UK’s position on how such co-operation can be maintained post-Brexit remains unclear.
Land management is vital to the health of the aquatic ecosystem, so any new land management policy needs to work across all UK countries for people and the environment, and co-operation regarding cross border water bodies needs to continue.