Overview of the Bill
1 The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill implements the Withdrawal Agreement, as agreed between the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) on 17 October 2019. The Bill is required to implement the Withdrawal Agreement for it to have domestic legal effect and to enable the UK Government to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement. This Bill is also the vehicle for the Government to give effect to the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement between the UK and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, and the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement between the UK and Switzerland.
2 The Bill provides for the direct application of the Withdrawal Agreement provisions in domestic law where relevant, whilst also recognising the sovereignty of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Bill amends the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to ensure it reflects the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. The Bill also creates powers to make secondary legislation, where appropriate, to enable the Withdrawal Agreement to be implemented domestically. It includes amendments to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 in relation to rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity protections contained in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 1998. All these measures provide for the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement agreed between the UK and the EU pertaining to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
3 This Bill also includes provision relating to facilitating access for Northern Ireland goods to the market in Great Britain, as well as further provision to ensure no alteration to the arrangements for North South cooperation can occur as a result of this Bill.