Scrutiny of international agreements; treaties considered on 24 June 2020 Contents

Chapter 1: Agreements reported for information

Agreement in the form of an exchange of notes between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco in respect of Protocol 4 of the Agreement establishing an Association between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Kingdom of Morocco (CP 233, 2020)2

1.The UK-Morocco Agreement in respect of Protocol 4 of the UK-Morocco Association Agreement (the Cumulation Agreement) was laid before Parliament on 21 May 2020, and the scrutiny period is scheduled to end on 9 July 2020.3 It was considered by the International Agreements Sub-Committee on 24 June 2020.

2.The EU Committee previously scrutinised the UK-Morocco Association Agreement, laid on 20 December 2019 and considered on 2 February 2020.4 That Agreement was drawn to the special attention of the House on the grounds that it was politically important and gave rise to issues of public policy that the House may wish to debate prior to ratification, namely the treatment of goods from, and the status of, Western Sahara.5 That report was debated together with a motion in the name of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara on 9 March.6

3.The reasons for the EU Committee drawing the Association Agreement to the special attention to the House related to its provisions on goods from Western Sahara. The Committee received representations from the Trade Justice Movement (TJM) about this issue and considered an open letter published on 24 January, signed by TJM and other civil society groups, as well as trade unions.7 Western Sahara’s status is disputed, and the UK’s official policy position is that it considers the status of Western Sahara ‘undetermined’.8 The EU Committee noted that “the inclusion of Western Sahara in the UK Agreement raises an important question of policy about how the UK should balance its commitment to Western Sahara’s ‘undetermined’ status with its pursuit of a trade agreement with Morocco”.9

4.This newly laid Cumulation Agreement takes the form of an exchange of notes between the two governments. As the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) states, the Cumulation Agreement was signed at the same time as the Association Agreement (26 October 2019), but was “unintentionally omitted” when the Association Agreement was laid. This is an unfortunate oversight, but we have considered the Cumulation Agreement in the light of our previous scrutiny of the Association Agreement.

5.The Government’s EM explains that the purpose of the Cumulation Agreement is to “provide continuity for businesses”, and that it will be implemented alongside the Association Agreement. It establishes a two-year transitional period for rules on cumulation under the Association Agreement. Rules of cumulation allow the parties to treat certain materials from other specified countries as originating in their own country for the purposes of qualifying for trade preferences under the agreement. The Cumulation Agreement would allow for diagonal cumulation with Turkey, Egypt and Jordan,10 such that products incorporating materials from those third countries that entered either the UK or Morocco in the 12 months preceding the date of signature of the Agreement will continue to qualify for preferential treatment, provided the final product meets all other requirements of the Association Agreement. The Cumulation Agreement does not raise any additional issues in relation to Western Sahara.

6.The Association Agreement, as our earlier report noted, also introduced an extended cumulation of origin such that both parties will recognise content and processing from the EU as originating in the UK or Morocco in exports to one another; the parties’ preference for a trilateral approach with the EU on this issue is set out in a Joint Declaration in the Association Agreement. Such a trilateral approach would seek to “replicate coverage of existing trade flows” and explicitly regards the UK-Morocco Association Agreement as a “first step towards this outcome pending the outcome of the trade negotiations between the UK and the EU 11

7.In addition, beyond the EU, we noted:

“Wider cumulation provisions apply to the UK and Morocco, subject to a trade agreement being in place between the relevant parties. Products incorporating materials originating in the EFTA states (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway), Turkey and those countries that signed the Barcelona Declaration in 1995 can also be considered as originating in Morocco or the UK, provided they have undergone subsequent processing in the UK or Morocco beyond a minimum level.”12

8.The Barcelona Process, or Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed), started in 1995 and set the foundations for the EU’s relationship with its Mediterranean neighbours. In addition to the EU and Morocco, the signatories to the Barcelona Declaration were North Macedonia, Turkey, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia and the Palestinian Authority.13

9.Given that this Cumulation Agreement expressly covers three of these countries (Turkey, Egypt and Jordan), we asked officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to clarify how the provisions established in this exchange of notes differed from, or built on, the provisions contained in the Association Agreement. They confirmed to us that the Cumulation Agreement sets out an additional transitional provision to apply if the UK has not applied a preferential trade agreement with Turkey, Egypt or Jordan by the time of the entry into force of the Association Agreement. In such circumstances, the Cumulation Agreement allows that the parties may (for a time-limited period) continue to treat products incorporating materials that had been imported pre-signature from the relevant third country as originating in their own. We are grateful to them for this clarification about the relationship between the two Agreements.

10.We report the UK-Morocco Exchange of Notes to the House for information.

Agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Poland on the Participation in Certain Elections of Nationals of Each Country Resident in the Territory of the Other (CP 245, 2020)14

11.The UK-Poland Agreement on the Participation in Certain Elections of Nationals of Each Country Resident in the Territory of the Other (the UK-Poland Agreement) was laid on 8 June 2020, and the scrutiny period is scheduled to end on 14 July 2020. It was considered by the International Agreements Sub-Committee on 24 June 2020.

12.The EU Committee has previously scrutinised agreements on voting rights with Luxembourg, Portugal, and Spain.15 As with those agreements, the UK-Poland Agreement does not seek to roll over a prior EU international agreement, but seeks to secure via a bilateral agreement certain voting rights that have hitherto been enjoyed by British citizens resident in Poland, and Polish citizens resident in the UK, under provisions of EU law. Such reciprocal voting rights were not protected under the Withdrawal Agreement.16

13.The Agreement would entitle UK nationals resident in Poland, and nationals of Poland resident in the UK, to continue to stand and vote in local elections. The Government’s EM states that the Agreement will “encourage the continued social and political participation” of the approximately 6,000 UK nationals living in Poland, who were removed from the Polish electoral register on 31 January 2020, when the UK ceased to be an EU Member State. The Agreement would also apply to approximately one million Polish nationals living in the UK, who under existing UK legislation remain entitled, as EU citizens, to vote in local elections.17 Accordingly, no legislation is necessary to give effect to this Agreement in UK law.

14.The EM describes the UK-Poland Agreement as “fully reciprocal in nature”, but as with the UK-Spain, UK-Luxembourg and UK-Portugal Agreements, the voting rights it grants to nationals of each State are in fact not identical. This is because national definitions of ‘local elections’ vary. In the UK, ‘local election’ means local government elections, mayoral elections, and combined authority mayoral elections. In Poland, it means municipal council elections and elections of commune heads, mayors and presidents of cities.

15.No minimum residency requirements apply in either country. The term ‘nationals of the UK’ covers British citizens, British subjects, and British Overseas Territories citizens with a connection to Gibraltar.

16.Finally, the UK-Poland Agreement requires the parties to notify each other of changes to the franchise in their domestic law that are relevant to the scope and implementation of the Agreement (Article 4). It also provides that the Agreement may be amended by written agreement between the parties (Article 5), and that either party may terminate the Agreement by giving written notification to the other party (Article 8). The International Agreements Sub-Committee would expect to be informed of any such notifications or amendments.

17.We report the UK-Poland Agreement to the House for information.


2 Agreement in the form of an exchange of notes between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco in respect of Protocol 4 of the Agreement establishing an Association between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Kingdom of Morocco, CP 233, 2020: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/886311/CS_Morocco_1.2020_UK_Morocco_Exchange_of_Notes_in_respect_of_Protocol_4_of_the_Agreement_establishing_an_Association_between_the_UK_and_Morocco.pdf [accessed 11 June 2020]

3 Owing to the unusual sitting patterns of the two Houses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the scrutiny period dates have been revised since this agreement was first laid, when it was anticipated the scrutiny period would end on 14 July 2020.

4 Agreement establishing an association between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Kingdom of Morocco, CP 202, 2019: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/854581/CS_Morocco_2.2019_UK_Morocco_Agreement_establishing_an_Association.pdf [accessed 11 June 2020]

5 European Union Committee, Scrutiny of international agreements: treaties considered on 4 February 2020 (4th Report, Session 2019–21, HL Paper 14)

6 HL Deb, 9 March 2020, cols. 907-922

7 Trade Justice Movement, ‘Civil Society organisations raise concerns about Morocco Association Agreement’: https://www.tjm.org.uk/blog/2020/civil-society-organisations-raise-concerns-about-uk-morocco-association-agreement [accessed 11 June 2020]

8 HM Government, ‘Western Sahara and the UK’: https://www.gov.uk/world/western-sahara/news [accessed 11 June 2020]

9 4th Report, Para. 20

10 The EM explains that these are contracting parties to the Regional Convention on pan-Euro-Mediterranean preferential rules of origin (PEM), with which the EU and Morocco have trade agreements in place.

11 Association Agreement, p.69

13 The Barcelona Process or Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed): https://ec.europa.eu/research/iscp/pdf/policy/barcelona_declaration.pdf [accessed 11 June 2020].

14. Agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Poland on the Participation in Certain Elections of Nationals of Each Country Resident in the Territory of the Other, CP 217, 2019: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/890567/CS_Poland_1.2020_UK_Poland_Agreement_Participation_Certain_Elections.pdf [accessed 11 June 2020]

15 See European Union Committee, Scrutiny of International Agreements: Treaties considered on 23 July 2019 (45th Report, Session 2017–19, HL Paper 416) for details of the UK-Luxembourg: Agreement on the Participation in Certain Elections of Nationals of Each Country Resident in the Territory of the Other , CP 141, 2019, and the UK-Portugal: Agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Portuguese Republic Regarding the Participation in Local Elections of Nationals of Each State Resident in the Other’s Territory , CP 142, 2019. See European Union Committee, Scrutiny of International Agreements: Treaties considered on 3 April 2019 (36th Report, Session 2017–19, HL Paper 337), for details of the UK-Spain Agreement on the Participation of in Certain Elections of Nationals of Each Country Resident in the Territory of the Other, CP 71, 2019.

16 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, OJ C 326 (26 October 2012), pp 47–390, Article 22 and Council Directive 94/80/EC of 19 December 1994 laying down detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in municipal elections by citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals OJ L 368 (31 December 1994), pp 38–47.

17 Representation of the People Act 1983, section 4(3) and section 202 as amended




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