The House of Commons’ Exiting the European Union Committee (the Committee) has published its first report on the process for exiting the European Union and the Government’s negotiating objectives.
Among other things the report states:
- the Committee welcomes the Prime Minister’s assurance that Parliament will have the opportunity to scrutinise the Government’s negotiating plan, but in order to do that the plan must be published in sufficient time before the triggering of Article 50. The Committee expects to see the plan, which should be in the form of a White Paper, by the middle of February 2017 at the very latest. When the Government publishes the plan, the Committee states that it should declare its position in relation to membership of the Single Market and Customs Union;
- once the Article 50 negotiations begin, the Committee states that Parliament will need to be kept fully informed about progress. The Committee welcomes the Government’s stated commitment to ensuring that the UK Parliament is kept as well-informed throughout the negotiation process as the European Parliament will be. The Committee asks the Secretary of State to set out exactly how the Government intends to meet this commitment;
- as procedural considerations may affect the outcome of the negotiations, the Committee considers it important for the Government to provide early clarification of its expectations on whether or not the Article 50 agreement and a future arrangements agreement made under Article 218 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and the room for flexibility in the choice between the two: if the expectation is that it is a mixed agreement, the Committee states that the Government should put plans in place at that time to engage with other regional and national bodies throughout the EU in order to ensure safe passage of the agreement;
- that the Committee considers it important for the Government to set out clearly its policy on membership of the Customs Union as part of its plan for the negotiations; and
- that a ‘cliff edge’ change in circumstances could be extremely disruptive in some sectors to businesses both in the UK and in the EU. The Committee states that the Government should make clear from the outset that a period of adjustment to any change in trading arrangements or access to EU markets for UK services industries will be sought as part of the negotiations.
In the report the Committee also states that no one can predict how negotiations will unfold once Article 50 is triggered. However, the Committee argues that as a bare minimum, by the time that the UK exits the EU, it is essential that clarity has been provided around:
- the institutional and financial consequences of leaving the EU including resolving all budget, pension and other liabilities and the status of EU agencies currently based in the UK;
- border arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and a recognition of Northern Ireland’s unique status with regard to the EU and confirmation of the institutional arrangements for north-south cooperation and east-west cooperation underpinning the Good Friday Agreement;
- the status of UK citizens living in the EU;
- the status of EU citizens living in the UK;
- the UK’s on-going relationship with EU regulatory bodies and agencies;
- the status of on-going police and judicial cooperation;
- the status of UK participation in on-going Common Foreign and Security Policy missions;
- a clear framework for UK-EU trade; and
- clarity on location of former powers between UK and devolved governments.