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New opportunities and changes brought by globalisation present contemporary policy makers and regulators with challenges that cannot be dealt with in isolation. Against this backdrop, international regulatory co-operation (IRC) provides an opportunity for countries, and in particular domestic regulators, to consider the impacts of their regulations beyond their borders, expand the evidence for decision making, learn from the experience of their peers and develop concerted approaches to challenges that transcend borders. IRC can be particularly useful for the United Kingdom in this pivotal time for its regulatory policy agenda. Like other countries across the globe, the United Kingdom is facing the daunting challenge of regulating in a fast-paced, digital and interconnected world. At the same time, with the United Kingdom’s recent withdrawal from the European Union, departments and regulators are likely to take on additional responsibilities that formerly belonged to European institutions, and the UK government to rethink its engagement with international peers.

This report documents the context of IRC policies and practices in the United Kingdom, unilateral efforts for embedding international considerations in domestic regulatory process as well as the bilateral, regional or multilateral co-operative efforts on regulatory matters. In addition it provides a sample of IRC in practice with four case studies on financial services, nuclear energy, medical and healthcare products, and product safety. At a time when IRC is increasingly essential for countries to address transboundary policy challenges and remains a largely untapped tool, the recommendations made to the United Kingdom in this review can offer valuable lessons to other countries within the OECD and beyond.

This report is the second in-depth international regulatory co-operation review undertaken by the OECD, following the review of IRC in Mexico conducted in 2018. By requesting such a review, the UK pushes forward the boundaries of regulatory policy and showcases the new international dimension of regulation that can no longer be ignored. The OECD 2012 Recommendation of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance makes IRC an integral part of quality regulation in today’s globalised context. And yet, the OECD’s extensive analytical work, horizontal surveys and specific country and sector studies on IRC developed since 2012 confirm IRC is still largely an untapped tool across OECD countries. By highlighting the benefits of IRC for the United Kingdom today, this review confirms the IRC as a key pillar for regulatory policy and governance in the 21st century.

The review was carried out by the OECD Public Governance Directorate under the auspices of the OECD Regulatory Policy Committee using the regulatory policy review methodology developed over two decades of peer learning. It is based on information gathered namely through interviews with authorities from the Government of United Kingdom, private sector and academia in London in December 2018, March and September 2019. Two preliminary versions of the report were discussed in policy workshops with a wide range of United Kingdom public and private sector representatives. This report was peer reviewed by the OECD Regulatory Policy Committee, approved on 7 November 2019 and prepared for publication by the OECD Secretariat.

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