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SUEZ warns against Brexit

18th March 2016 Posted by

Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU) would leave a large void in environmental policy and could undermine a decade of improvement, according to SUEZ recycling and recovery UK CEO, David Palmer-Jones.

As the country moves closer to the EU referendum vote in June 2016, David warned that a move away from the EU might increase red-tape associated with the trade in both commodities and refuse-derived-fuels with other EU nations. He said the issue also raises lots of unanswered questions about the rights of workers in the UK environmental services sector, many of which originate from wider EU Member States.

EU legislation, such as the Landfill Directive and statutory recycling targets, has played a major role in moving the UK from a landfill-dominated Member State to one that has attained a respectable recycling rate, albeit one that still has room for improvement.

More widely, much of Britain’s employment laws are derived from EU Directives and case law from the Court of Justice of the European Union. This could mean major changes for large UK employers if the UK opts to repeal these laws after a Brexit.

Similarly, this raises questions about future eligibility to work problems. As a large number of people employed in operational roles within the environmental services sector originate from wider EU member states.

David Palmer-Jones, Chief Executive Officer of SUEZ recycling and recovery UK said:

“Leaving the EU would be detrimental to the environmental services sector because the EU is the driving force behind much of the vital environmental policy and legislation which enable companies like SUEZ to invest in new services and infrastructure.

Scotland and Wales have grasped the nettle of the circular economy and have demonstrated vision and leadership in transforming their economies – qualities that are currently lacking from the administration in England.

Under the circumstances, a long term vision and policy leadership at EU level will be vital to safeguard the economy in England, and in particular our sector, against future resource scarcity and price shocks.

Investment in new resource management facilities in England is virtually at a standstill given the volatile state of the market for secondary materials. Policy intervention is needed to create the right market and price signals, and this is something only governments can do.”

Some in the environmental services sector have called upon companies to actively campaign to stay in the EU, but while SUEZ supports this, it will not go as far as actively encouraging employees to vote to stay in.

David said:

“We make all of our employees aware of the important role of EU policy-making in respect of our sector, and of course our UK operations are part of a global group headquartered in Europe, but we are also mindful that the EU membership referendum debate is far more wide-reaching.

Therefore, while SUEZ supports Britain’s continued membership of the EU, because we believe that it’s the right thing for the environment and our sector. We would not go as far as promoting a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer in a future referendum among our hugely diverse workforce, because we respect that everyone has their own, individual, political convictions.”

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