House Of Commons European Scrutiny Select Committee Publishes Government's Response To Its Report Calling For The Ministers To Keep Parliament Better Informed Of The Work Of The Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee



The Withdrawal Agreement established a Joint Committee to oversee the implementation, application and interpretation of the Withdrawal Agreement.
European Union Government, Public Sector
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The Withdrawal Agreement established a Joint Committee to oversee the implementation, application and interpretation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

In April 2021, the European Scrutiny Committee published a report on UK parliamentary scrutiny of the Withdrawal Agreement UK/EU Joint Committee and application of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which found that the Joint Committee has considerable legal and political importance, mainly because of the Northern Ireland Protocol, and that there was significantly more that the Government could, and should, be doing to facilitate democratic oversight of it. The Scrutiny Committee said that information about decisions of the Joint Committee provided by the Government to Parliament had been incomplete and too late, meaning that the Scrutiny Committee had not been able to exercise proper democratic scrutiny.

In response, the Government says that it agrees that the Joint Committee is of significant legal and political importance, which necessitates robust mechanisms for transparency and parliamentary scrutiny. It says that it is looking to build a collaborative approach to scrutiny of Joint Committee activity with Parliament and welcomes advice and experience from Scrutiny Committee members.

The Government says that from the start of the transition period, Written Ministerial Statements have been issued before and after Joint Committee meetings. It also points to the appearances by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove MP before various Select Committees. In addition, it says that Joint Committee meetings are sometimes agreed at short notice meaning that it is not always possible to share information with adequate notice. However, it says it will "seek to avoid this and use our best endeavours to provide notice and information where we can". It will also, where possible, share provisional meeting agendas at least seven days in advance.

The response also covers:

  • "at risk" goods: i.e. goods imported into Northern Ireland, but which may then be "at risk" of ending up in Ireland, avoiding the tariffs required of goods entering the EU's Single Market;
  • the arbitration panel: the transparency of the process for nominating members to the Withdrawal Agreement list of arbitrators to resolve disputes between the EU and the UK; and
  • "level playing field" issues: the continued application of EU State aid rules under the Protocol on Northern Ireland and the different interpretations by the EU and the UK on the extent to which such rules will continue to be binding on the UK under Article 10 of the Protocol.

To access the response, click here.

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