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Lords EU Committee launches new inquiry on state aid and the level playing field


On Thursday 27 February 2020 the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee will hold its first evidence session on the role of the level playing field in UK-EU negotiations. 

This short inquiry was launched by the Committee to explore three related themes:

  • What level playing field commitments are and how they operate in EU free trade agreements, especially as regards social and labour rights, environmental protections, and state aid.
  • The EU's approach to state aid rules and possible reforms at EU level.
  • What opportunities are open to the UK in formulating its own policy on state aid or subsidy control, in particular for supporting wider objectives such as "levelling up" the country and meeting climate targets.

Giving evidence to the Committee at 10.15am will be:

  • Dr Lorand Bartels, Senior Counsel, Linklaters, and Reader in International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Holger Hestermeyer, Shell Reader in International Dispute Resolution, King's College London
  • Dr Damian Raess, Assistant Professor in Political Science, World Trade Institute, University of Bern
  • Nicola Smith, Joint Head of Equality and Strategy, Trades Union Congress.

Questions will include:

  • What are the key reasons for including level playing field provisions in trade agreements?
  • What is the rationale for the EU potentially using the level playing field as a “deal breaker” in negotiations with the UK?
  • How do provisions on labour standards and subsidies in existing EU trade agreements compare to the Commission's proposed approach to negotiations with the UK?
  • How might social and labour protection clauses operate in practice? To what extent might they limit the UK's ability to set its own social and labour legislation after the end of the transition period?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks for the UK of retaining the ability to depart from EU-derived social and labour standards?
  • How do the provisions on enforcement and dispute resolution in existing EU trade agreements work?
  • The UK and EU's emerging negotiating positions on the level playing field appear to be at odds with each other. How can a balanced outcome be achieved?

This evidence session, which is open to the public, will begin at 10.15am on Thursday 27 February 2020 in Committee Room 4a of the House of Lords.

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