Unless you are a mad-keen vexillologist, a certain flag’s anniversary might have unsurprisingly passed you by last week. On 8 December 1955 the Council of Europe first adopted the iconic European Flag, now used by the European Union. Under this banner the EU has endeavoured to ‘fly the flag’ for environmental issues on the global stage and, according to a recent Institute of European Environmental Policy (IEEP) report, has developed “probably the most complete and influential body of environmental law and policy in the world”.
For a long time it has been the EU, rather than UK-initiated policy, which has been the major driver of UK environmental legislation. The unexpected referendum result on 23 June will inevitably trigger a full policy and legislation review, putting around 70% of UK environmental protection laws at risk and potentially exposing the UK to all manner of environmental vulnerabilities such as habitat destruction and species loss.
61 years after the European Flag – a visual representation of steadfast unity – was unveiled, could the current period of flux amidst uncertainty about the Brexit process present opportunities for positive action by the UK environmental movement? As one of the 56% of 26-49 year old ‘remain’ voters I certainly hope so.