Brexit: the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration Contents

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

The Withdrawal Agreement

1.We have repeatedly argued that it is vital that the Withdrawal Agreement and its arrangements for the transition period apply to Gibraltar. We therefore welcome the successful resolution of this issue. We also welcome the application of the Withdrawal Agreement, where necessary, to the other Overseas Territories, and the Crown Dependencies. (Paragraph 22)

2.We note, however, that while the Agreement settles the post-transition status of the UK’s Sovereign Bases on Cyprus, Gibraltar’s long-term relationship with the EU remains subject to negotiation within the wider context of the UK-EU future relationship. (Paragraph 23)

3.The Joint Committee structure for governance of the Withdrawal Agreement, agreed in March 2018, ought to allow a collaborative approach to the supervision of the Withdrawal Agreement, as well as the delegation of specific functions, such as citizens’ rights, financial provisions, Northern Ireland/Ireland and Gibraltar, to specialised committees. (Paragraph 34)

4.The Joint Committee will be critical in ensuring the smooth working of the Withdrawal Agreement. It will be a uniquely powerful and influential body. Decisions adopted by the Joint Committee would be binding on the EU and the UK and would have the same legal effect as the Withdrawal Agreement. (Paragraph 35)

5.In particular, during the transition and for a period of four years thereafter, Article 164 of the Withdrawal Agreement provides that the Joint Committee would have power to amend aspects of the Agreement to take account of errors, omissions and deficiencies, and to address unforeseen situations. Even though changes that “amend the essential elements” of the Agreement are excluded, this is a widely drawn power, and is not subject to clear scrutiny procedures or parliamentary oversight. (Paragraph 36)

6.Nor does it appear that the Joint Committee will operate in an open and transparent way. The relevant rules suggest that meetings would be confidential, decisions might not be published, and even summary minutes might not be made publicly available. This is an unsatisfactory state of affairs, given the significant role that the Joint Committee will play. (Paragraph 37)

7.While the international agreement establishing the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU may not be the appropriate place to include provisions relating to the role of the UK Parliament, Members of both Houses may wish to consider the appropriate level of, and structure for, parliamentary oversight of the Joint Committee, and seek undertakings from the Government on this question. (Paragraph 38)

8.The provisions relating to dispute resolution in the Withdrawal Agreement retain a limited role for the CJEU. This role is, however, attenuated when compared with that envisaged in the March 2018 draft text. (Paragraph 67)

9.Notably, the inclusion of an arbitration mechanism, with input from the CJEU only in circumstances where questions of Union law arise, moves toward the Government’s goal of ending the direct jurisdiction of the CJEU, while still respecting the autonomy of the European Union’s legal order and the role of the CJEU. Nonetheless, it is possible that concerns may arise if a decision of the CJEU were effectively to determine a dispute between the parties. (Paragraph 68)

10.Other provisions, such as the retention of CJEU jurisdiction during the transition, and over the provisions relating to citizens’ rights for an eight-year period following the transition, have long been accepted by the UK Government, though they too arguably fall short of the Government’s original red line on CJEU jurisdiction. (Paragraph 69)

11.We welcome the fact that the Agreement addresses concerns raised in our earlier report, Dispute resolution and enforcement after Brexit, about the need for a longstop, or limitation period, for any claims that arise before, or during, the transition period. This will give parties involved in legal disputes greater certainty as to the legal regime which will apply to their case. (Paragraph 70)

12.One of the Government’s primary aims in negotiating Brexit has been a desire to end free movement of people. A necessary consequence has been that the citizens’ rights guaranteed under the Withdrawal Agreement fall short in some respects of those enjoyed during the UK’s EU membership. Most notably, for UK citizens in the EU, onward free movement rights are not guaranteed. EU nationals in the UK will generally be obliged to pay a small fee to register for settled status, and will face automatic criminal records checks, if they wish to remain after Brexit. (Paragraph 95)

13.Notwithstanding these specific reservations, the agreement on citizens’ rights is fairly comprehensive and will, if the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified, allow individuals and families to continue with their lives and careers with a minimum of disruption. We therefore broadly welcome the citizens’ rights provisions. (Paragraph 96)

14.It remains far from clear what would happen to EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Throughout the negotiations, we have called on the Government to give a clear and unilateral assurance that all EU nationals in the UK would be entitled to stay and retain their rights. (Paragraph 97)

15.We therefore welcome the Prime Minister’s assurance that the rights of EU citizens will be protected in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, and we call upon the Government formally to undertake to honour all the obligations set out in Part Two of the Withdrawal Agreement, regardless of whether the Agreement itself is ratified. (Paragraph 98)

16.We are concerned that similar commitments have not been received from the EU 27, and call on the Government as a matter of urgency to seek assurances that the rights of UK nationals in the EU will be secured on a reciprocal basis. (Paragraph 99)

17.The provisions on the financial settlement set out in Part Five of the Withdrawal Agreement do not set out the precise amount of the UK’s financial obligations, but set out the agreed methodology for calculating them. The precise amounts paid will be contingent upon future events. (Paragraph 107)

18.The Government has acknowledged that it will ‘pay its dues’, whether or not the Withdrawal Agreement is successfully concluded, while also indicating that, in the absence of an Agreement, both the total amount, and the timetable for repayments, could vary from what is currently proposed. We reiterate the conclusion reached in our March 2017 report on Brexit and the EU budget, that the consequences of seeking to leave the EU without settling claims under the EU budget would be profound. (Paragraph 108)

19.Much of the sum payable relates to UK contributions to the 2019 and 2020 EU budgets, which coincide with the transition period, during which the UK will continue to be subject to EU law and be part of the EU Single Market. (Paragraph 109)

20.The payment of these sums is not contingent upon a successful outcome to negotiations on future UK-EU relations. Once the UK and the EU conclude the agreement under Article 50 of the TEU, the UK’s financial commitments will crystallise as clear legal obligations in international law, irrespective of the outcome of the future negotiations. (Paragraph 110)

The transition period

21.In our report Brexit: deal or no deal we identified two secure means, consistent with the terms of Article 50 TEU, whereby a ‘standstill period’ could be established after exit day, in order to provide reassurance to citizens and businesses and buy time to finalise an agreement on future relations. Either the European Council could, by unanimous agreement, agree to a request to extend the negotiating period, or the Article 50 Agreement could set a date later than 29 March 2019 for the UK’s withdrawal to take effect. At the same time, we recognised the political sensitivities over both these approaches. (Paragraph 120)

22.Under this Agreement, save for a few minor exceptions, transition means that the UK will carry all the responsibilities of EU membership without the institutional rights and privileges enjoyed by EU Member States. Throughout the transition period, the UK will remain subject to EU law and the EU institutions and agencies that oversee its application and operation, without any institutional say over its development, application and content. This falls short of a genuine ‘standstill’ period. (Paragraph 121)

23.Despite the possibility of invitations being extended to UK officials to attend relevant meetings in exceptional circumstances, we are concerned about the sudden removal of the UK’s institutional privileges, particularly those relating to the EU’s many executive agencies. (Paragraph 122)

24.We broadly welcome Article 129, which leaves the UK free to pursue its own free trade agreements during the transition period, provided they do not enter into force before it expires. (Paragraph 127)

25.However, beyond the limitations to this freedom implied by the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (the so-called backstop), questions remain about the detailed operation of this provision. For example, it is silent about the extent of the UK’s freedom to renegotiate during transition the myriad EU agreements dealing with matters where responsibilities are shared between the EU and the individual Member States. (Paragraph 128)

26.Furthermore, Article 129, which attempts to carry over the application to the UK of the suite of existing EU international agreements, is one-sided and unclear. While it expressly binds the UK to its obligations under these international agreements, and calls on the Government to refrain from any action in this context deemed “prejudicial” to the Union’s interests, the UK’s status as a party to these agreements after 29 March 2019 is dealt with by a footnote. We are concerned that the solution to such a significant question is subject to a footnote of questionable legal status. The attitude of third countries to continuing UK participation in agreements with the EU remains unclear. (Paragraph 129)

27.The Government has described the option to extend the transition period as an “insurance policy” in case the negotiations on the future relationship are not completed. However, this insurance policy gives rise to a number of significant issues. It would have to be triggered several months before the end of the transition period. It would then have to be negotiated by the UK and the EU. The cost of extension is unclear. And should the parties be unable to conclude their negotiations on the future relationship at the end of the extended transition, it would not stop the UK falling into the proposed backstop. (Paragraph 138)

28.An extension of the transition period would also mean that the UK would remain subject to EU law (including new Regulations and Directives and the jurisdiction of the CJEU) for an extended period, without any representation in the European Parliament, the Council, or the CJEU. The risk that is inherent in the UK becoming a ‘rule taker’ (subject to new EU laws, without having had any say in their preparation or adoption) will become more acute, the longer the transition period lasts. (Paragraph 139)

29.Given that any decision on extending the transition period would have to be taken by the Joint Committee, Members may wish to seek clarification from the Government on the role that Parliament will play in authorising any extension. (Paragraph 140)

Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland

30.We welcome the Government’s and the EU’s commitment to use their “best endeavours” to agree an alternative agreement addressing the UK’s future relationship with the EU before the end of the transition period. If successful, this will render recourse to the so-called backstop arrangement for Ireland/Northern Ireland unnecessary. However, this is an ambitious timetable, even allowing for one extension of the transition period. (Paragraph 144)

31.We have repeatedly emphasised the historic importance of the Common Travel Area as a basis for cooperation between the UK and Ireland. We therefore welcome the explicit commitment to its retention contained in the Withdrawal Agreement. (Paragraph 149)

32.If, by the end of the transition period (including any extended transition period), the UK and the EU have failed to reach agreement on future relations, then to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, the Protocol creates a “single customs territory” comprising the UK and the EU. The UK would be required to abide by the EU’s rules on the prohibition of customs duties, and to align with the EU’s Common Commercial Policy, to the extent necessary to give effect to the “single customs territory”, including tariffs on external trade with third countries. (Paragraph 154)

33.The UK would also undertake to ensure a level playing field within the “single customs territory” across a range of associated EU policies, including environmental protection law, labour and social standards, State aid, and competition law. We note that the UK’s obligation to match developments in the areas of State aid and competition law would continue for as long as the backstop remained in force. (Paragraph 155)

34.The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland would thus tie the UK closely to EU law across these associated policy areas. Moreover, UK membership of the “single customs territory” and the inherent requirement that the UK aligns with the EU’s Common Commercial Policy (including tariffs on external trade) would significantly curtail the UK’s freedom to pursue an independent trade policy. (Paragraph 156)

35.We also note that fisheries and aquaculture are specifically excluded from the “single customs territory”, and that the UK and EU promise to use their best endeavours to negotiate a separate agreement dealing with these matters. (Paragraph 157)

36.While the backstop remained in place, the UK would be required not to fall below EU standards applying at the end of the transition period on environmental protection and social and labour standards. UK compliance with these EU standards would remain the responsibility of national institutions and/or the Joint Committee. (Paragraph 162)

37.In contrast, the UK’s commitments with regard to State aid and competition law would go considerably further. The Protocol proposes a system of very close cooperation between the UK’s authorities and the European Commission, which reflects the additional burden of having to match EU developments in these areas. (Paragraph 163)

38.If recourse to the backstop were to prove necessary, this would effectively weave the UK into the EU’s State aid and competition rules. It would also leave the relevant UK institutions subordinate to the European Commission, which is responsible for policing and providing institutional oversight of the EU’s rules on State aid and competition law. (Paragraph 164)

39.If the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland were to come into effect, its provisions would apply the EU’s customs legislation to Northern Ireland, and would impose additional technical and regulatory responsibilities on the UK with regard to Northern Ireland, including in respect of the free movement of goods. Taken together, these rules would bind Northern Ireland even more closely to EU law than those applying to Great Britain within the “single customs territory”. Moreover, Northern Ireland’s compliance with these EU rules would be policed and enforced by the European Commission, the EU’s executive agencies and the CJEU, without the additional institutional privileges inherent in EU membership, save for the UK’s right to participate in Northern Ireland-based CJEU proceedings. (Paragraph 169)

40.The introduction of different regulatory and technical rules on opposite sides of the Irish Sea would carry risks for the UK’s internal market, as evidenced by Article 7 of the Protocol, which appears to envisage goods exported from Great Britain to Northern Ireland being subject to regulatory checks. We highlight the importance of the Joint Committee’s responsibility to keep this issue under constant review. (Paragraph 170)

41.The differing technical and regulatory rules that would apply in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, if recourse to the Protocol is necessary, would also raise profound implications for the movement of goods between Great Britain and the EU 27. There would not be a frictionless border for goods between Great Britain and the EU, unless this was agreed in the negotiations on the future relationship, or the EU and the UK Government agreed to align Great Britain with the additional regulatory rules applying to Northern Ireland. Hence, although Northern Ireland would benefit from a free movement of goods regime, this would not apply to goods transported between the EU 27 and Great Britain. These would potentially be subject to regulatory checks, which could have a significant impact on UK ports. (Paragraph 171)

42.We have previously recommended that Northern Ireland should, as part of the future UK-EU relationship, remain part of the Single Electricity Market on the island of Ireland. We welcome the fact that the provisions of the Protocol show that the UK and EU negotiators are aware of the importance of this issue, which should also figure in negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship. We draw attention to our earlier conclusion that such an outcome might require the devolution of additional powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly once the devolved institutions are reinstated. (Paragraph 172)

43.We note that Article 13 of the Protocol, on cross-border cooperation, covers a wide range of areas of EU competence, including some areas where the EU’s competence is merely to support action by the Member States. Notwithstanding the breadth of this provision, we reiterate the conclusions reached in earlier reports, as to the vital importance of cross-border cooperation to the lives of UK and EU citizens, particularly those living close to the Irish land border. (Paragraph 175)

44.Article 20 of the Protocol is clear that there would be no way for one party to the Agreement to bring the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland to an end on a unilateral basis. Any such decision would be made in the Joint Committee, by mutual consent, having regard to the objectives set out in Article 1 of the Protocol and the duty of good faith set out in Article 5 of the Withdrawal Agreement. Should this provision lead to an intractable dispute between the parties, either side could institute the arbitration procedure set out in Part 6 of the Withdrawal Agreement. (Paragraph 179)

The Political Declaration on the future relationship

45.We welcome the Political Declaration’s acknowledgement of the shared heritage, values and interests of the UK and EU, and its recognition of the unique context of their future relationship given the UK’s post-withdrawal status as a former Member State. It is therefore important to acknowledge that the future relationship may evolve over time. (Paragraph 188)

46.The Political Declaration notes the need to strike a balance between the rights and obligations of both sides. In practice, however, it restates their respective red lines at the outset. This demonstrates just how difficult it has been for both sides to compromise: the scope and ambition of the Declaration must be judged in that light. (Paragraph 189)

47.We welcome the reference in paragraphs 6–7 of the Political Declaration to shared values and the maintenance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We call on the Government to explain the significance, if any, of the reference to the UK’s commitment to the ‘framework’ of the ECHR, rather than to the ECHR itself. (Paragraph 197)

48.We have reported on the critical importance of maintaining uninterrupted data flows during and after Brexit. We therefore welcome the provisions on data protection, which offer a pragmatic way forward. (Paragraph 198)

49.We also welcome the prospect of UK participation in EU programmes in areas such as science and innovation, youth, culture and education, overseas development and external action, defence capabilities, civil protection and space, and the possibility of UK participation in European Research Infrastructure Consortiums. We note, however, that such participation will come at a cost, which is yet to be determined, and that the Declaration sheds little light on how UK participation will be achieved, and what influence it will have over these programmes. (Paragraph 199)

50.We warmly welcome the shared commitment of the UK and the EU to delivering a future PEACE PLUS programme in Northern Ireland. (Paragraph 200)

51.We note the possibility of continuing cooperation in areas such as culture, education, science and innovation. We call on the Government to explain the significance of the reference in paragraph 14 of the Declaration to “the importance of mobility” in enabling such cooperation. (Paragraph 201)

52.We note that most of the commitments in Part I of the Declaration remain undefined. Stakeholders in the various sectors affected urgently need clarification of how future UK-EU cooperation will work in practice, in particular in terms of UK participation in EU programmes. (Paragraph 202)

53.The commitment to tariff-free trade in goods is welcome. Beyond this, the text is careful not to commit to or rule out particular models for cooperation on trade in goods. It consistently reiterates the EU’s principles, with the implication being that some new friction in trade in goods is inevitable. Nevertheless, the extent and nature of such friction is not defined, and the document specifically envisages a “spectrum of outcomes” depending on how closely the UK aligns to the EU on customs and regulation. At the same time, it seeks to reflect the UK’s concerns by omitting reference to a common external tariff, and by holding out the possibility, without commitment, of the use of facilitative arrangements and technologies. (Paragraph 211)

54.The Declaration thus leaves a number of key issues open and undefined, including:

55.We welcome the intention to conclude “ambitious, comprehensive and balanced” arrangements on trade in services across a range of sectors. We note, however, the lack of detail in the section on services and investment, and also that some key service sectors are not mentioned in the Declaration. We call on the Government to explain what agreement, if any, it expects to reach in respect of the health, creative and tourism sectors. (Paragraph 216)

56.We welcome the commitment to ensure services providers and investors are treated in a non-discriminatory manner, and to allow for the temporary entry and stay of natural persons for business purposes. We invite the Government to confirm whether or not the latter provision envisages preferential arrangements for UK and EU citizens moving between each other’s territories to provide services. (Paragraph 217)

57.We welcome the reference to appropriate arrangements for professional qualifications, but note the lack of a specific commitment to reciprocal recognition of qualifications. (Paragraph 218)

58.The statement that “regulatory approaches should be compatible to the extent possible”, and the mechanics of the proposed voluntary framework on regulatory cooperation, also require further clarification. (Paragraph 219)

59.In summary, while the provisions on services and investment are helpful as far as they go, they will not provide the current level of access to the EU Single Market enjoyed by the UK’s services sectors. Further details are urgently required to provide service providers and customers with assurance and certainty. (Paragraph 220)

60.We acknowledge the intention of both sides to complete the equivalence assessment process in respect of financial services by June 2020. We also welcome the commitment to “close and structured” regulatory and supervisory cooperation, and to close cooperation in international bodies. But the agreement to keep respective equivalence frameworks under review falls short of the new economic and regulatory arrangement in financial services proposed by the UK. Nor does the granting of equivalence in June 2020 provide any long-term guarantee—equivalence can be reviewed and withdrawn at any point. As we concluded in December 2016, any agreement on financial services based on equivalence will be an “inadequate substitute” for the passporting regime that the UK participates in as an EU Member State. (Paragraph 224)

61.Given its growing importance to the UK’s economy, the specific emphasis on digital services in the Political Declaration is welcome. Nevertheless, the Declaration’s emphasis on the facilitation of data flows, rather than on the retention of free data flows, appears to mark a lowering of ambition when compared with the ongoing development of the EU’s Digital Single Market. (Paragraph 226)

62.We regret the lack of reference in the Political Declaration to maintaining the abolition of roaming charges across the UK and the EU 27. (Paragraph 227)

63.We welcome the provisions to enable free movement of capital and payments, on intellectual property (including geographical indicators) and on public procurement, as far as they go. Our Justice Sub-Committee is currently examining EU intellectual property law and the implications of Brexit on UK participation in the Unified Patent Court, and we will offer more detailed comment on this complex area in due course. (Paragraph 231)

64.The provisions on mobility respect and reflect the UK’s decision that the principle of free movement of persons from the EU will no longer apply. The principle of full reciprocity means that UK nationals will therefore also cease to receive preferential treatment by the EU in the future. While the Political Declaration proposes some mitigations, they will not change this significant restriction upon the freedoms currently enjoyed by UK citizens. (Paragraph 236)

65.We are concerned at the omission of any reference to reciprocal healthcare, including the European Health Insurance Card, as a means of facilitating mobility. We call on the Government to set out, as a matter of urgency, its plans for maintaining reciprocal healthcare arrangements in the context of the future relationship. (Paragraph 237)

66.We are concerned that the Declaration contains so little detail on the impact of UK withdrawal on family law. We remind the Government of our earlier conclusion, that if the UK leaves the EU without alternative arrangements being in place, the UK’s family justice system, and the individuals seeking redress within it, could suffer profound damage. (Paragraph 238)

67.We welcome the commitment to cooperation in the aviation sector, and in particular the proposed Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement. We call on the Government to confirm whether or not the reference to market access in paragraph 60 of the Declaration is intended to include the fully liberalised market access currently enjoyed by UK and EU operators. (Paragraph 244)

68.We also note the high-level commitments to cooperation in the road, rail and maritime sectors. More detail is needed, particularly with respect to road transport, where the Government needs to explain whether the reference to “comparable market access” achieves its aim of “reciprocal access”; whether, in the absence of any reference to reciprocal cabotage rights, new permitting and licencing requirements will be required for transport operators and professional drivers; and whether any “complementary arrangements” in relation to travel by private motorists will negate the need for UK motorists to carry International Driving Permits and insurance Green Cards when travelling in the EU. (Paragraph 245)

69.We regret that the Declaration does not hold out the possibility of continued UK participation in the Internal Energy Market, but at the same time we welcome the high-level commitment to cooperation in the supply of electricity and gas to ensure as far as possible security of supply and trade over interconnectors. (Paragraph 248)

70.We welcome the commitment to a wide-ranging Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, including exchange of information, trade in nuclear materials and equipment, monitoring of levels of radioactivity, and exchange of information on medical radioisotopes. While the reference to the UK’s intention to be associated with the EURATOM research and training programmes is a positive step, we call on the Government to provide further clarification of its plans in this regard. (Paragraph 249)

71.The Political Declaration confirms that the UK will leave the Common Fisheries Policy and become an independent coastal state. Yet, as we warned in December 2016, the EU has also made clear that finalising a future fisheries agreement is a precondition for agreement of the overall economic partnership. While we reiterate our view that cooperation with the EU and other neighbouring states in fisheries management will be critical in the years to come, difficult negotiations lie ahead. (Paragraph 253)

72.We welcome the commitment to future UK-EU cooperation to address issues of shared economic, environmental and social interest. We particularly welcome the continued shared commitment to international agreements on climate change, where the UK has been a global leader, and where continuing cooperation with the EU will help to offset any potential loss of influence as a result of Brexit. (Paragraph 256)

73.The section on a level playing field for open and fair competition reflects the acute concern of the EU (and many of its Member States) that the UK may seek to undercut EU standards and competitiveness. This may help to explain the opaque language in paragraph 79, notably the reference to provisions that build on the Withdrawal Agreement, while being “commensurate with the overall economic relationship”. It will be difficult to translate such vague commitments into a binding agreement. (Paragraph 259)

74.We welcome the ambition by both sides to strike a “broad, comprehensive and balanced security partnership”, but note that this may fall short of the Government’s ambition for a single comprehensive treaty covering all areas of security cooperation. (Paragraph 267)

75.The depth of the future relationship in law enforcement and judicial cooperation, though yet to be defined, will depend on “an appropriate balance between rights and obligations”, and on the UK’s willingness to continue to follow EU rules and to accept that the CJEU, as the sole interpreter of EU law, will have continuing influence over the application of those rules. (Paragraph 268)

76.In some areas the UK will necessarily cease to be part of the EU’s law enforcement and security ecosystem. This is most evident in the case of databases and data exchange. While we welcome the commitment to establishing arrangements for the exchange of Passenger Name Record and Prüm data, we regret the lack of any reference to UK access to the Schengen Information System II (SIS II) and the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) database. (Paragraph 269)

77.It is unclear whether UK cooperation with Europol and Eurojust will go beyond existing third-country-arrangements. Both agencies are vital tools for UK law enforcement. (Paragraph 270)

78.We note that the UK will also withdraw from the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), but welcome the commitment to establishing “effective arrangements based on streamlined procedures” on extradition. We urge the Government to bring forward detailed proposals as soon as possible, ahead of formal negotiations. (Paragraph 271)

79.We welcome the commitment to continued cooperation in the areas of foreign policy and defence. While we note that this includes the possibility of UK contributions to EU development programmes, we regret the lack of specific detail about how such cooperation will work in practice. While the commitments in respect of sanctions fall short of the alignment this Committee has proposed, they are nevertheless a balanced reflection of both the common external threats faced by the UK and the EU, and their mutual interest in supporting peace and tackling terrorism. (Paragraph 281)

80.We also endorse the commitment to UK-EU political and industrial collaboration in the area of defence, through UK collaboration with the European Defence Agency and projects in the PESCO framework, and the possibility of UK defence companies participating in projects by the European Defence Fund. (Paragraph 282)

81.The EU’s readiness to engage in sectoral dialogue with the UK, and to invite the UK to informal EU Ministerial meetings on an ad-hoc basis, reflects the crucial contribution by the UK to Europe’s foreign policy. Taken together with the possibility of the UK participating in the planning of CSDP missions to which it contributes, the Declaration allows a greater UK engagement with and influence over EU foreign policy than is currently afforded to any third country. (Paragraph 283)

82.The Political Declaration is extremely vague in respect of space, and fails to address the extent of UK involvement in programmes with a security element such as Galileo. Set alongside the recent confirmation that the UK will no longer have access to Galileo, this underlines that there will be serious consequences for UK companies operating in the sector and for their ability to tender for contracts. (Paragraph 284)

83.The UK and the EU’s wish to continue cooperation and dialogue on cyber-security, civil protection, illegal migration, and counter-terrorism, reflects shared concerns, priorities, and threats. While commitments are vague, and the mechanisms for future collaboration are not always described, the Political Declaration shows willingness to continue to exchange information and cooperate in international fora. This is to be welcomed. (Paragraph 290)

84.We welcome the proposed overarching institutional framework, which should help provide consistency and coherence. While we note that the precise legal form of the future relationship remains to be determined, we welcome the suggestion that the overarching framework could take the form of an Association Agreement. Association Agreements are by their nature dynamic and evolutionary, and such a model fits well with the commitment by both sides to keep the future relationship under review. (Paragraph 298)

85.We welcome the commitment to dialogue at summit, ministerial and technical level. We also note the key role that the proposed Joint Committee will play in managing and supervising the implementation and operation of the future relationship. Much of the detail of how this dialogue will function in practice, including the Joint Committee’s rules of procedure, the frequency of its meetings, and the appointment of specialist sub-committees, remains to be determined. We emphasise that the work of the Joint Committee, and the process by which it is established, will require close parliamentary scrutiny and accountability at both UK and EU level. (Paragraph 299)

86.In that context, we particularly welcome the recognition of the importance of interparliamentary cooperation, and the proposed establishment of a specific dialogue between the European Parliament and the UK Parliament. While noting the interest of devolved legislatures in the UK, and EU Member State parliaments, we stand ready to work with House of Commons and European Parliament colleagues in establishing this dialogue as swiftly as possible. (Paragraph 300)

87.We intend to explore these issues further in a forthcoming inquiry into future UK-EU interinstitutional relations, to be completed ahead of UK withdrawal in March 2019. (Paragraph 301)

88.As we set out in Chapter 2, the proposed arbitration model for the future relationship would mean that the CJEU would have a limited, but continuing, role in relation to questions of EU law that arose in disputes with the UK, even after its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement fell away. This potentially represents a ‘one size fits all’ solution, respecting the role of the CJEU as sole arbiter of EU law, potentially across the full spectrum of UK-EU relations, rather than in specific, identified areas. (Paragraph 302)

89.The provisions on dispute settlement, and on the Joint Committee, illustrate how the structure for interinstitutional dialogue in the future relationship echoes the provisions set out in the text of the Withdrawal Agreement. This underlines the close relationship between the two parts of the Brexit agreement. (Paragraph 303)

90.The Political Declaration confirms that formal negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship will begin only after UK withdrawal on 29 March 2019. The Political Declaration is thus in many places little more than an agenda for a discussion that has barely begun. But despite its lack of detail and precision, the Declaration is an important signpost to the shape of the future relationship, and to the structure and scope of the forthcoming negotiations. (Paragraph 307)

91.We welcome the commitment of both sides to engage in preparatory organisational work ahead of the commencement of formal negotiations. We also note their commitment to develop agreements in good faith, so that the future relationship can come into force by the end of 2020. While this is welcome, we note that in fact agreements will have to be reached by June 2020, the point at which the UK will have to decide whether to request an extension to the transition period. Given the range and complexity of the issues to be discussed, this timetable is extremely challenging. (Paragraph 308)

92.We endorse the Declaration’s recognition, in the context of the future relationship, of the need to safeguard the peace process in Northern Ireland, and to protect the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in all its parts. Paragraph 139 of the Declaration is thus important in balancing the backstop provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement. (Paragraph 309)

93.The negotiations on the future relationship should be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny. We note that at EU level the negotiations are likely to take place under Article 217 or 218 TFEU, and will be subject to detailed and transparent scrutiny by the European Parliament. The UK Parliament and the British people deserve the same transparency and accountability: the Government must engage proactively and constructively with Parliament, rather than repeating the mistakes of the last two years. We look forward, in this regard, to making further submissions to the Liaison Committee review of committee activity. (Paragraph 310)

94.The negotiations on the future relationship should be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny. We note that at EU level the negotiations are likely to take place under Article 217 or 218 TFEU, and will be subject to detailed and transparent scrutiny by the European Parliament. The UK Parliament and the British people deserve the same transparency and accountability: the Government must engage proactively and constructively with Parliament, rather than repeating the mistakes of the last two years. We look forward, in this regard, to making further submissions to the Liaison Committee review of committee activity. (Paragraph 310)

95.We welcome the commitment to a high-level conference at least every six months, which is in keeping with the recognition of both sides that the future relationship will continue to evolve. UK withdrawal from the EU is an important milestone in the evolution of the UK-EU relationship, but the story will not end on 29 March 2019. It is imperative that the structures underpinning the future relationship are flexible to adapt to whatever changes take place in the future. (Paragraph 311)

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