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Lords EU Committee raise concerns over three Brexit treaties

The House of Lords EU Committee has today for the first time drawn three Brexit ‘roll-over' trade agreements to the special attention of the House of Lords. The Committee identifies all three agreements as politically important, and also raises concerns over the UK Government's level of consultation, particularly with the devolved administrations.

The Committee also raise concerns that the Government has not yet bought forward proposals to roll over major trade agreements with countries such as South Korea and Japan, from which the UK currently benefits as part of the EU. The report suggests this may indicate larger economies are ‘reluctant to replicate' the preferential terms of their EU trade deals in bilateral agreements with the UK.  Given the proximity to the date the UK is expected to leave the EU the Committee concludes:

“The risk of disruption to the terms of UK trade with many of its most important trading partners is now imminent and acute.”

Trade agreements brought to special attention of the House:

  • Agreement establishing Economic Partnership Agreement between Eastern and Southern African States and the UK – brought to the special attention of the House on the grounds that it is politically and legally important, the Government has provided insufficient explanatory information, and that further consultation including with the devolved administrations would be appropriate.
  • Free trade agreement between the UK and Denmark in respect of the Faroe Islands – brought to the special attention of the House for the same reasons as above. The Committee notes that the agreement is particularly significant for the Scottish fishing industry, and highlights the particular importance of consultation with the Scottish Government.
  • Agreement establishing an Association between the UK and the Republic of Chile – The Committee draw the Agreement to the special attention of the House on the grounds that it is politically and legally important, and that further consultation may be appropriate. The Committee also highlights the omission of any provision to establish a successor to the joint EU-Chile interparliamentary body that oversees the existing EU-Chile Association Agreement.

Commenting on the report, Lord Boswell, Chair of the House of Lords EU Committee, said:

“Today's report is the first time we have drawn special attention to Brexit agreements. We are concerned that the Government is not consulting properly on the process of bringing over these treaties, particularly with the devolved Governments.

“International treaties are a reserved matter, but this isn't the time for the UK Government to adopt a legalistic approach, especially on issues that directly affect other parts of the UK, such as the Scottish fishing industry's interest in the trade deal with the Faroe Islands.

“We are also concerned that with the Brexit deadline looming, the trade agreements we're reporting on today only represent 0.3% of the UK's international trade. It looks increasingly as if major economies such as Japan and South Korea, with whom we have trade agreements through our membership of the EU, are not willing to give the UK the same preferential terms post-Brexit. That is a real worry for UK business and consumers as we get ever closer to 29 March.”

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