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Lords EU Committee takes on new role scrutinising Brexit-related treaties

The House of Lords EU Committee has today published its first report in its new role scrutinising Brexit-related treaties and international agreements. This will see the Committee scrutinise the ‘rollover' of international agreements the EU has previously agreed on the UK's behalf ahead of Brexit.

If the Withdrawal Agreement reached between the UK Government and the EU is ratified, then the UK will continue to be bound by EU international agreements for the duration of any transition or implementation period. But if there is a no-deal Brexit, these agreements will cease to apply on exit day, so a large number of replacement UK treaties will have to be ratified by Parliament before, or as soon as possible after, 29 March 2019.

The EU Committee will scrutinise all Brexit-related treaties as they are brought to Parliament, and either report them for information or draw them to the ‘special attention' of the House.  Parliament has 21 sittings days, from the date on which a treaty is laid, to complete its scrutiny ahead of ratification. The Committee has committed to report on each treaty in time to allow Members of the House to table motions for debate ahead of the 21-day deadline.

In conducting its scrutiny the Committee will welcome contributions from stakeholders, including the devolved institutions.

Treaties likely to be scrutinised in coming weeks include a comprehensive UK-Canada Free Trade agreement to replace the agreement currently in place between Canada and the EU.

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

“Parliament's role in scrutinising international agreements and treaties is going to be critical in the years ahead, as a post-Brexit United Kingdom looks to reach agreements on trade, transport and the environment with countries around the world.

“But first we need to look at the Brexit-related agreements, which are critical to achieving continuity and reducing the disruption that could follow a possible ‘no deal' Brexit. Among them we expect to see key trade agreements, including with Canada, South Korea and Japan. 

“We will have our work cut out, but I am confident the many years of experience the Select Committee and our six Sub-Committees have in scrutinising EU laws will ensure we are up to the challenge. We also hope for engagement from organisations and individuals for whom the treaties in question are particularly significant.”

In the Committee's first report in this role, published today, it scrutinised three international agreements:

  • Protocol (2015) amending the annex to the Agreement on trade in civil aircraft
  • Amendment of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement
  • Protocol amending the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the World Trade Organisation

All three agreements are reported for information.

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