Scrutiny of international agreements; treaties considered on 11 June 2019 Contents

Chapter 1: Agreements reported for information

Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Kingdom of Norway on International Road Transport, with Protocol1

1.The UK/Norway Road Transport Agreement was laid on 7 May 2019, and the scrutiny period is scheduled to end on 20 June. It was considered by the EU Internal Market Sub-Committee at its meeting on 23 May.

2.The European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement—concluded between the EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway—provides for regulatory alignment in all internal market policy areas, including transport.2 The Agreement between the UK and Norway on International Road Transport (“the Agreement”) intends to replicate the effects of the EEA Agreement in relation to road transport between the UK and Norway, in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement (under which the UK would continue to benefit from EU international agreements for the duration of the transition or implementation period) or any other agreement applicable to both parties on road transport.

3.There is relatively little commercial road transport between the UK and Norway. Department for Transport (DfT) officials told us that in 2018 around 7,000 goods vehicles departing the UK (0.2% of the total) were destined for Norway. The vast majority of vehicles using these routes were unaccompanied trailers.3 DfT officials indicated that no statistics were available for UK-Norway passenger transport.

4.The Agreement can enter into force (provisionally, if domestic ratification is incomplete) from the point at which the EEA Agreement ceases to apply to the UK. Its provisions will apply, however, only to the extent that they are consistent with the EU’s contingency Regulation on road connectivity, or any other temporary measure governing road transport between the UK and Norway. We discuss the EU’s contingency Regulation for road transport in Box 1.

Box 1: The EU’s contingency Regulation for road transport

The EU’s Regulation4 ensuring basic road connectivity with regard to the withdrawal of the UK from the EU entered into force on 28 March 2019, the day after it was published in the Official Journal of the EU. Its provisions will not apply if the UK leaves the EU with a Withdrawal Agreement.

The Regulation maintains a basic level of EU market access for UK road transport operators (goods and passengers), contingent on reciprocal measures for EU operators in the UK. This includes point to point journeys between the UK and EU, and some cross-trade and cabotage rights.5

The Regulation, as it stands, will cease to apply on 31 December 2019. The Government has indicated that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019, it will engage with the Commission to explore further options—including an extension to the Regulation.

5.Article 3 of the Agreement will provide for point to point passenger transport between the UK and Norway and transit by passenger vehicles through the territory of either Party. Regular (scheduled) services will require an authorisation permit, whereas Occasional services (e.g. coach trips and tours) will not. The Agreement will not allow a vehicle from one Party to operate a passenger service between the territory of the other Party and a third country. DfT officials told us that it was uncommon to include such provisions in bilateral agreements.

6.Article 4 of the Agreement covers goods transport—point to point journeys between the territories of the Parties, transit and journeys by a vehicle from one Party between the territory of the other Party and a third country. Such journeys will require permits, with some limited exceptions. The Joint Committee established by the Agreement may amend the list of exceptions, including to the extent of removing the requirement for permits from all goods vehicles.

7.The Explanatory Memorandum (EM) accompanying the Agreement states that the UK and Norwegian governments have “agreed to start the Agreement permit-free” (for the carriage of goods). This will include cross-trade journeys but not cabotage. Cabotage journeys for passengers and goods will require a special permit (Article 7).

8.The Agreement applies only to the UK, but may be extended to Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man through an Exchange of Notes. The EM describes engagement with the devolved administrations, Crown Dependencies and Gibraltar “throughout the process of transitioning [the] Agreement”. DfT officials reported that no issues were raised concerning the final text.

9.We report the UK-Norway Agreement on International Road Transport, with Protocol, to the House for information.

Economic Partnership Agreement between the CARIFORUM States, of the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the other part (re-laid)6

10.The UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement was originally published as a Command Paper (CP 83), which was laid before Parliament on 5 April 2019. CP 83 was withdrawn and a revised version (CP 103) re-laid on 22 May 2019. This followed the identification of an administrative error, which had led to Annexes V–VII being omitted from the text laid in April. Additionally, Annexes IV A and B were printed in the wrong order and Annexes IV C and D were printed in duplicate. These errors are regrettable, and we welcome the Minister’s commitment to reviewing quality assurance processes to ensure they do not arise again.

11.The re-laying of the UK-CARIFORUM Agreement means that the parliamentary scrutiny processes under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 are re-engaged. There is a new 21-day scrutiny period, which is scheduled to end on 8 July.

12.We reported on the original text of the UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement at the end of April, reporting it for information.7 The changes to the Agreement were considered by the EU External Affairs Committee at its meeting on 6 June. The amendments do not alter the main text of the Agreement, nor do they introduce any substantive policy changes. New Annex V includes a list of enquiry points in the UK and CARIFORUM states that are able to provide information to investors and services suppliers. New Annex VI provides a list of procuring entities and includes notes on applicable derogations. New Annex VII sets out how procurement opportunities, contract awards and other information relating to the Agreement will be published.

13.The explanatory memorandum and parliamentary report accompanying the re-laid Agreement have been revised to reflect the extension to the Article 50 process and the fact that the Dominican Republic has become the latest signatory to the Agreement.

14.Given the changes to the UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement are minor, the analysis, conclusions and recommendations in our earlier report remain relevant, and should be read alongside this report.

15.We report the re-laid UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement to the House for information.


1 Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Kingdom of Norway on International Road Transport, with Protocol, CP 94, 2019: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cs-norway-no12019-uknorway-agreement-on-international-road-transport-with-protocol [accessed 30 May 2019]

3 A tow-bar trailer or articulated semi-trailer moved on a maritime vessel or train without a powered unit. Unaccompanied trailers are not carried by the Eurotunnel freight service.

4 Regulation (EU) 2019/501 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 March 2019 on common rules ensuring basic road freight and road passenger connectivity with regard to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the Union, OJ L 85I (27 March 2019), p 39

5 Cabotage is the transport of goods or passengers solely within a single country by a non-resident vehicle. Cross-trade is the transport of goods between two countries by a haulier resident in a different country.

6 Economic Partnership Agreement between the CARIFORUM States, of the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the other part CP 103, 2019: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ms-no182019-economic-partnership-agreement-between-the-cariforum-states-of-the-one-part-and-the-united-kingdom-of-great-britain-and-northern-ire [accessed 5 June 2019]

7 European Union Committee, Scrutiny of international agreements: treaties considered on 30 April 2019 (38th Report, Session 2017–19, HL Paper 349)




© Parliamentary copyright 2019