EU law has created consistent practices across the UK in a range of policy areas. This section of the hub contains information and updates relating to the development by the UK Government and devolved administrations, working together, of ‘common frameworks’ covering areas of existing EU law that intersect with devolved competence in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
On 31 December 2020, the transition period, during which EU law continues to apply in the UK, ends. From that point, powers previously exercised at an EU level and which intersect with devolved competence will therefore “flow back” to the relevant devolved authorities.
Section 12 of the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 removes the current requirements in each of the devolution statutes that the devolved legislatures can only legislate in ways that are compatible with EU law. The Act, however, then replaces those requirements with powers for the UK Government to apply, by regulations, a temporary ‘freeze’ on devolved competence in specified areas, subject to the approval of the UK Parliament.
The UK Government and the devolved administrations have agreed, though, that there is a need to maintain UK or GB wide policy approaches in certain policy areas. Common frameworks will set out arrangements for operating and governing a common UK or GB approach to policy development and implementation.
The implementation of the Ireland - Northern Ireland Protocol means that in some instances it will not be possible to implement in Northern Ireland the policy approaches adopted in GB countries (England, Scotland and Wales).
Common frameworks may consist of common goals, minimum or maximum standards, harmonisation, limits on action, or mutual recognition, depending on the policy area and the objectives being pursued. Frameworks may be implemented by legislation, by executive action, by memorandums of understanding, or by other means depending on the context in which the framework is intended to operate. A set of jointly developed principles guide the development of common frameworks.