My right Honourable Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Alan Duncan), has made the following written Ministerial statement:
The Government wishes to inform the House of its decision to opt in to the Council Decision on Conclusion of the EU-Canada Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA), in respect of Article 18(2) of the Agreement, which relates to judicial cooperation in the field of civil and commercial matters. This article falls within Title V of Part III of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union.
The SPA, a framework political agreement, will update the previous EU-Canada 1976 Framework Agreement for commercial and economic cooperation between the European Communities and Canada. It has two aims: i) to enhance EU-Canada political ties and cooperation on foreign and security policy issues; and ii) to upgrade cooperation on a wide range of other areas. The SPA, though not technically linked to the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), is complementary and will provide wider benefits to the EU-Canada relationship.
The SPA has been under negotiation between the EU, its Member States and Canada, since 2011. The draft Council Decision on Conclusion issued on Thursday 24 November 2016. Notwithstanding the result of the referendum on EU membership the Government consider that it is in the UK’s interests to opt in to Article 18(2) of this Agreement at the Conclusion stage of the SPA negotiations. Article 18(2) of the agreement provides for judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters. While it is not specific about the type of cooperation that might be envisaged, the Government believes that it is beneficial for the UK to be involved in any such work between the EU and one of our closest Commonwealth partners whilst we remain a member of the European Union.
We do not expect the Council Decision on Conclusion to be adopted until all Member States have ratified the SPA.