What is regulatory alignment?
In the context of Brexit, regulatory alignment refers to the degree to which UK and EU rules governing trade in goods and services will be the same or similar in future. The Withdrawal Agreement means that Northern Ireland will stay aligned with many EU rules on goods after the transition ends, but the UK government will not commit to alignment for the rest of the UK. This is a contrast to the position of Theresa May’s government, which wanted to negotiate a ‘common rulebook’ on goods. The risk of UK divergence is why the EU wants level playing field provisions in the future trade agreement, which it sees as important to protecting EU businesses from unfair competition.