Brexit & Beyond newsletter

19 December 2023

Welcome to the 19 December 2023 Brexit & Beyond newsletter

The EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly met in Westminster. UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron gave evidence to the Lords European Affairs Committee. The Commons European Scrutiny heard evidence as part of its inquiry into Retained EU Law. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris-Heaton Harris told the media today that talks with the DUP on the Windsor Framework are over.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our readers!


UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly

The EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly (PPA) met on 4-5 December in Westminster. Diane Dodds (DUP) and Kate Nicholl (Alliance) attended from the NI Assembly. DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is a full member of the PPA, while Baroness Ritchie is a substitute. The parliamentarians heard from Leo Doherty, UK Minister for Europe and Pedro Serrano, EU Ambassador to the UK, and discussed issues including artificial intelligence, climate change, and the UK-EU relationship.

 4th meeting of the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly

4th meeting of the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly | Source: © UK Parliament


Diane Dodds spoke during the debate on climate change (watch her intervention in the debate at 2.10). She highlighted the implications of the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), if applied in NI. Meanwhile yesterday the UK announced it will introduce its own CBAM by 2027. It says its design and delivery will be subject to further consultation in 2024. The BBC’s John Campbell points out that for NI, the EU and UK CBAMs will have to align as much as possible “to avoid a fresh round of complexity for goods trade” between GB and NI. The Government has published a summary of responses to its consultation and a factsheet.


The PPA made a recommendation to the Partnership Council, which oversees the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, calling for them to work collaboratively to improve the opportunities for youth mobility between the EU and UK. It recommends that the EU and UK should accept that EU nationals and UK nationals can travel between their territories with identity cards on organised school trips. The PPA calls on the EU and UK to “prioritise the mobility of touring artists, with a view to developing a comprehensive approach that would allow artists and their teams to tour freely in the EU and UK.” On 7 December the Home Secretary announced rule changes to allow schoolchildren in France to visit the UK on organised educational trips without the usual passport or visa requirements. The Lords European Affairs Committee calls for this to be extended to all member states.

Documents from the PPA meeting can be found here; a report from the breakout groups on data protection, fisheries and citizens’ rights has been published.


Lord Cameron gives evidence

UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron gave evidence to the Lords European Affairs Committee, his first appearance before a parliamentary committee since taking up the role. On the review of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, Lord Cameron said, “I do not think trying to reopen it and change the nature of it is what we should be doing…obviously we have some things that we would like to fix, but they probably have some things that they want to fix with us, and it does not always help to lay out a huge list of things in advance. I want us to be canny and tough operators to get the best out of this.”

 Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs speaking to the House of Lords European Affairs Committee

Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs speaking to the House of Lords European Affairs Committee | Source: © House of Lords 2023 / photography by Roger Harris

Baroness Ludford said the UK’s data adequacy decision from the Commission, “enables not only hugely important business data flows…but also the exchange of data in law enforcement, such as under the Prüm agreement. There is a big cloud looming.” In June 2021, the European Commission adopted two data protection adequacy decisions for the UK, which will have to be renewed after four years. Lord Cameron responded, “I do not think that [the UK’s legislation, the Data Protection and Digital Information (No. 2) Bill] should threaten our data adequacy in any way, because, of course, there are lots of other countries that have data adequacy nominations from the EU…and have very different data rules to us.” The Northern Ireland Department for the Economy has published a report on the risks to cross border transfer of personal data.

Lord Cameron told peers on 5 December that the Windsor Framework was “a superb negotiation. The EU said it would never reopen the Withdrawal Agreement and it did; it said it would never give an emergency brake, yet it did when it came to Stormont; and it never really makes exceptions for single market access for non-single market countries, yet it has…I think it can fulfil the seven tests that the Democratic Unionists have put forward.”


Retained EU Law

On 6 December, the Commons European Scrutiny heard evidence as part of its inquiry into the progress and mechanics of the reform of Retained EU Law. Joël Reland, Research Associate at the UK in a Changing Europe, said the impacts on the internal UK market “are often forgotten, and then you end up suddenly realising you are going to bazooka Northern Ireland if you go ahead with something, and you have to take three steps back to make sure you do not do that.” He added, “Direction setting is needed…there is no coherence. There is no systematic thinking about how it is all working and what you want your regulatory principles to be.”

Reland’s view is that there hasn’t been much substantive reform because “the notion of regulation best suited for the UK is an oxymoron, and regulation is primarily about reducing barriers and creating common standards between different jurisdictions so that they can engage with one another as easily as possible.” He gave the example of the UK’s medical devices rules, which are simpler, but “there is still more procedure than if we just followed the same rules as everybody else”. He said the risk from that is that devices then do not come onto the UK market because they are going to prioritise the EU regulations. Secondly, as the EU is the main export market for many British businesses, they will continue to follow these rules anyway. A third factor, he said, is disruption if reform creates divergence with Northern Ireland.

Dr Oliver Garner of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law concluded that there is “nothing about retained EU law that ever restricted the sovereignty of Parliament, ever restricted the self-determination of individuals…I think it would have been better for the United Kingdom to simply convert retained EU law to assimilated law and then present the positive agenda of what will be done.”

The Government is required to produce regular reports on its reform of and plans for REUL; the first of these is due before 22 January 2024. Scottish Parliament research has published an update on the REUL to be revoked at the end of this year. Professor Simon Usherwood has published his analysis of the REUL reform process.


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