Governance of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement

Synopsis: This page contains information on the governance of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) contains a framework to govern and enforce all aspects of the agreement, including to ensure a ‘level playing field’ for fair and open competition, one of the sticking points during the negotiations.

The TCA established a Partnership Council, made up of EU and UK representatives. It is co-chaired by European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and UK Foreign Minister James Cleverly.

The Council should meet at least once a year and oversees the implementation and application of the TCA. It can meet in different configurations depending on the topic for discussion. It has the power to adopt decisions, make amendments to the TCA, and establish other specialised committees. The adoption of decisions and recommendations should be by mutual consent, and decisions of the Council are binding. Disputes or issues relating to the implementation of the TCA can be referred to the Partnership Council or Specialised Committees. If disputes between the EU and UK cannot be resolved through consultation, an independent arbitration tribunal can be established to decide the matter (this applies to most areas of the agreement). To date, the Partnership Council has met once, on 9 June 2021. Information about meetings of the Partnership Council and its Specialised Committees can be found here.

Specialised Committees have been established to oversee specific areas of the TCA, such as trade in goods, customs cooperation and rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and the ‘level playing field’. Further working groups have been established to assist these committees. These Specialised Committees and working groups are attended by delegations of officials from the UK and EU, and officials from Northern Ireland Executive departments have attended some meetings as part of the UK delegation.

Parliamentary Partnership Assembly (PPA)

The TCA also contains provisions for the European Parliament and the UK Parliament to establish a Parliamentary Partnership Assembly (PPA), made up of members of the respective parliaments, to exchange views on the partnership. The PPA is able to make recommendations to the Partnership Council and request relevant information from the Partnership Council. The European Parliament and UK Parliament agreed to establish a joint assembly with 35 representatives from each delegation.

The second meeting of the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly, held in Westminster

The second meeting of the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly, held in Westminster | Source: European Parliament

In October 2021, the European Parliament agreed to set up its delegation. On the UK side, the Commons and Lords passed motions to establish the PPA in December 2021. The UK delegation  is made up of 21 Members from the Commons (12 Conservative MPs, seven Labour and two from other parties), and 14 from the Lords. There are also 12 substitutes: eight from the Commons (five Conservatives, two Labour and one other) and four from the Lords. DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is a full member, while Baroness Ritchie is a substitute. The European Parliament decided its delegation to the PPA in December 2021. Its chair is Nathalie Loiseau (Renew Europe) and Vice Chairs are Seán Kelly (EPP) and Tsvetelina Penkova (S&D).

Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Scottish Parliament and Senedd Cmyru called for a defined role for the devolved legislatures in the PPA and can attend the plenary meetings as observers. Representatives from the Northern Ireland Assembly attended the second meeting in Westminster, where the PPA agreed a recommendation to the Partnership Council.

Meeting

Agenda

Statements

2nd meeting

7-8 November 2022

 Agenda

Joint statement from the Co-Chairs

 

Recommendation concerning UK-EU energy cooperation

 

Address by European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič

 

Address by Leo Docherty, Minister for Europe and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (video)

1st meeting

12-13 May 2022

Agenda

 

Joint statement from the Co-Chairs

 

Address by European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič

 

Address by UK Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Ellis

The European Commission, in its October 2021 proposal on engagement with Northern Ireland stakeholders and authorities, suggested the possibility of a Northern Ireland sub-structure to the PPA.

For further information, the House of Commons Library has published a briefing on the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly.

The graphic below shows the governance structure of the TCA:

Governance structure of the TCA

Civil Society Forum (CSF)

The UK and EU should consult and consider the views of civil society on the implementation of the TCA. Under the TCA, the EU and UK established Domestic Advisory Groups (DAGs), made up of civil society organisations, such as NGOs, business organisations, and trade unions, which advise the respective parties on the implementation of the agreement. A Civil Society Forum (CSF), involving representatives from both the EU and UK, should meet once a year to discuss and submit their views on the TCA. The domestic advisory groups participate. The first meeting of the UK DAG was held in April 2022 and the first meeting of the CSF was held in Brussels in October 2022.

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