Documents considered by the Committee on 13 December 2017 Contents

16Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with Armenia

Committee’s assessment

Legally and politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny; drawn to the attention of the International Trade Committee.

Document details

(a) Joint Proposal for a Council Decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, and provisional application of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Armenia, of the other part; (b) Joint Proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Armenia, of the other part; (c) Recommendation for a Council Decision approving the conclusion by the Commission on behalf of the European Atomic Energy Community, of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Armenia, of the other part

Legal base

(a) Articles 207 and 209, in conjunction with Article 218(5) and the second paragraph of Article 218(8) TFEU (b) Articles 207 and 209, in conjunction with Article 218(6)(a) and the second paragraph of Article 218(8) TFEU (c) second paragraph of Article 101 EURATOM; (a) and (b) unanimity, (c) QMV

Department

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Document Numbers

(a) (39074), 12503/17 + ADDs 1–6, JOIN(17) 36; (b) (39076), 12525/17 + ADDs 16, JOIN(17) 37; (c) (39075), 12527/17, COM(17) 549

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

16.1These Decisions authorise the EU to sign, provisionally apply (in part) and conclude (ratify) a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the EU and its Member States and Armenia.

16.2Our First Report sets out the background to, and content of, this Agreement in more detail.

16.3When we first considered these proposals, we raised concerns that:

16.4We are grateful for the further and full explanations from the Minister, and clear these proposals. In doing so we regret that the Explanatory Memorandum did not properly set out from the outset the Government’s position on matters raised in our previous Report, which are ones that have arisen before in relation to other agreements of this sort.

16.5The Committee does not share the Minister’s confidence that the new language in document (a) (on the signing and provisional application of CEPA) makes it clear that the EU is only exercising competence where it is exclusive:

16.6We note that the Government characterises as “political commitments” those provisions of the “Justice, Freedom and Security” Title of CEPA framed in mandatory terms for the parties to co-operate; with the result that they do not engage the UK opt-in under Protocol 21 to the Treaties. We do not pursue this further as we consider that the Protocol is not engaged, albeit for a different reason; that the relevant decisions do not have a legal basis falling within Title V of part Three TFEU.

16.7In relation to Brexit we draw attention to the intention of the Government to seek to replicate CEPA as a bilateral UK-Armenia agreement as part of the “Government’s International Agreements Programme”. We draw this aspect of our Report to the attention of the International Trade Committee.

Full details of the documents

(a) Joint Proposal for a Council Decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, and provisional application of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Armenia, of the other part: (39074), 12503/17 + ADDs 1–6, JOIN(17) 36; (b) Joint Proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Armenia, of the other part: (39076), 12525/17 + ADDs 1–6, JOIN(17) 37; (c) Recommendation for a Council Decision approving the conclusion by the the Commission on behalf of the European Atomic Energy Community, of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Armenia, of the other part: (39075), 12527/17, COM(17) 549.

The Minister’s Letter of 22 November 2017

16.8The Minister’s response to the Committee is as follows:

“Adoption of the Council Decisions (report paragraph 0.7)

“The report asks whether any of the Council Decisions have been adopted. I can confirm the Council Decisions were adopted at the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council on 20–21 November, ahead of their signature and conclusion at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels on 24 November.

“EU and Member State competences (report paragraphs 0.8–0.9)

“Since the Explanatory Memorandum on the Agreement was submitted to the Committee, revised versions of the Council Decisions were published, which I have attached. They do not substantively change the original Council Decisions but do help clarify the issue of EU and Member States competences raised in the report.

“Firstly, recital 5 of Council Decision 12542/17 states that ‘The signing of the Agreement on behalf of the Union and the provisional application of parts of the Agreement between the Union and the Republic of Armenia is without prejudice to the allocation of competences between the Union and its Member States in accordance with the Treaties’.

“Article 3 of Council Decision 12542/17 sets out the limited EU competence provisions which are being provisionally applied. It also contains a caveat that provisional application applies to these parts ‘only to the extent that they cover matters falling within the Union’s competence, including matters falling within the Union’s competence to define and implement a common foreign and security policy’.

“I am confident that the inclusion of this language ensures that the EU is only exercising competence where it is exclusive, in line with Government policy that normally Member States should exercise shared competence.

“Brexit (report paragraph 0.10)

“The report asks for further information as to the implications of Brexit on the Agreement. The Comprehensive Enhanced Partnership Agreements falls within the scope of the Government’s International Agreements Programme, under which we intend to replicate the effects of key EU agreements by transitioning them in to bilateral agreements between the UK and the partner country. It is our intention to avoid any disruption to UK-Armenia relations when we leave the European Union, and transitioning this agreement will be one way of ensuring that we manage this.

“Justice and Home Affairs op-in (report paragraph 0.11)

“The report asks the Government to set out more fully why the UK opt-in does not apply in the case of the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement. The provisions in the JHA chapter of the Agreement are in the main political commitments to co-operate. There are no specific JHA obligations that require the UK to do anything new or different. We can already co-operate on these issues and will continue to do so where appropriate. The only Article in the Agreement that provides a substantive obligation is Article 15, relating to the obligation to ensure full implementation of the EU-Armenia Agreements on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation, and on the facilitation of the issuance of visas, both of which entered into force on 1 January 2014.

“The UK is not party to these agreements and secured the addition of language (‘The Parties that are bound by the following Agreements shall ensure the full implementation of’) to clarify that the provision does not apply to the UK.”

Previous Committee Reports

First Report HC 301–i (2017–19), chapter 18 (13 November 2017).





15 December 2017