Brexit & Beyond newsletter

4 December 2023

Welcome to the 4 December 2023 Brexit & Beyond newsletter

The fourth meeting of the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly (PPA) takes place this week in London. The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) met on 28 November in Dublin, and discussed the Common Travel Area, Horizon Europe, and UK post-Brexit border controls, among other matters. A Senedd committee has published a report on EU-UK governance.


EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly

The EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly (PPA) is meeting today and tomorrow (4-5 December) in Westminster. The PPA is able to make recommendations to the Partnership Council, which oversees the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Parliamentarians will discuss mobility of people, data protection, fisheries, citizens' rights, artificial intelligence, and climate change, including the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. DUP MLA Diane Dodds and Alliance MLA Kate Nicholl will attend from the NI Assembly. DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is a full member of the PPA, while Baroness Ritchie is a substitute. The meeting is being streamed on the UK Parliament YouTube channel.

 Co-chairs of the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly Sir Oliver Heald and Nathalie Loiseau at the last PPA meeting in July 2023

Co-chairs of the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly Sir Oliver Heald and Nathalie Loiseau at the last PPA meeting in July 2023 | Source: EP © European Union 2023

The Commons Library has published briefings on visiting, working, and living in the EU after Brexit, citizens’ rights, and fisheries. The FT reports that EU member states are “keen” for a deal on youth mobility, and that the European Commission has started to “scope out” an EU-wide UK mobility deal. However, Peter Foster writes, it has found “a nervous partner in London that has warned that the UK political climate on immigration makes any such deal very tricky.” 


British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC)

The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) met on 28 November in Dublin. The BIIGC aims to promote bilateral co-operation on matters of mutual interest between the British and Irish Governments.

Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme

The Conference discussed the importance of the Common Travel Area (CTA), the UK Government’s Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme, and its potential implications for the all-Ireland tourism sector. In a change to the initial plan, people who are legally resident in Ireland, and who do not need a visa, will not need an ETA when entering the UK from Ireland. However, the ETA scheme still applies to overseas tourists entering NI from the Republic of Ireland. The Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance (NITA) says over 70% of visits to NI arrive via Dublin and that the plan risks 25% of all tourism spend in NI. The British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly Sovereign Affairs Committee has published a report on ‘Protecting the Common Travel Area in the post-Brexit era.’ It considers the ETA scheme to be “unworkable” on the island of Ireland and “at odds with long-standing CTA arrangements and principles that underpinned the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement”.

Horizon Europe

The BIIGC agreed that British and Irish Horizon Europe National Contact points “should be encouraged to work together closely to identify potential calls in the Work Programmes where our research and innovation communities are well-placed to coordinate or jointly participate in a project application.” Horizon Europe is the EU’s research and innovation programme, which has a budget of €95.5 billion. The UK’s association to Horizon was delayed because of the NI Protocol dispute. The Specialised Committee (SC) on Participation in Union Programmes is meeting today, 4 December, and will formalise the UK’s participation in Horizon by adopting a decision. The minutes of the SC meeting of September 2022 have also been published. At this point, the UK’s access to Horizon wasn’t agreed. The UK “challenged the link that the EU had made between the Northern Ireland Protocol and the UK’s association to EU Programmes. The UK set out that in its view there was no legal base to make a link between the two issues, which are contained in two separate Agreements.”

Border controls

The UK and Irish Governments “recognised the importance of bilateral trade for both countries and agreed to work together to ensure a smooth trading relationship over the coming months including through the introduction of the UK’s new Border Target Operating Model/import controls.” The UK Government’s Border Target Operating Model sets out its approach to post-Brexit border controls on imports to GB, including the introduction of new checks on goods from Ireland, and plans to phase in controls on ‘non-qualifying’ goods from the island of Ireland.


Senedd report on EU-UK governance

The Senedd Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee has published a report from its inquiry into UK-EU governance. It sets out whether and how Welsh interests are represented in the EU-UK relationship. The Committee concludes that the substantial decision-making powers granted to the UK and EU executives by the UK-EU agreements “necessitates the development of effective systems of parliamentary oversight”. It notes that decisions taken by governance bodies “could limit the ability of devolved institutions to exercise their legislative competence.” [Read more on our website on the governance of the Withdrawal Agreement, and governance of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement] The Committee highlights there is “a compelling case to be made for the further inclusion of sub-state and other regional voices, such as devolved institutions and EU Local and Regional Authorities voices in governance structures, particularly because responsibility for the implementation of key parts of UK-EU agreements falls to them”. It finds “it is incumbent on parliaments and legislatures in the UK to themselves improve oversight of these structures and to better work together to improve transparency and hold governments to account. UK parliamentary committees working on these issues should seek to work more closely together both through direct engagement and through the Interparliamentary Forum”. The committee intends to engage with its sister committees to consider how this could be achieved.

According to the report, transparency of discussions and decisions taken within UK-EU governance structures “is poor and should be improved”. Regarding the engagement of civil society, the report reflects that “important lessons can and should be learned from the experience of Northern Ireland where bottom-up solutions have resolved difficult issues between the EU and the UK”.


Other news

 UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron with European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron with European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič | Source: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street 

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