Documents to download

In February 2020, the UK Government published a command paper setting out its approach to the negotiations about the future relationship between the UK and the EU. It said the UK wished to establish a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, citing the EU’s deal with Canada as a model for such an agreement.

In the same month, the European Council published a decision authorising the opening of the negotiations, which the General Affairs Council subsequently adopted.

Section 29 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 established that the House of Lords European Union Committee could report on EU legislation made during the transition period which it considered raised matters of “vital national interest”. The Act required that the House of Lords debate the report within 14 sitting days of its publication. The committee has also said that to meet the requirements set out in the 2020 Act, this report would have to be debated as a resolution, making it possible for Members to vote on it if they wished.

The committee concluded that the council decision and the annex to the decision adopted by the General Affairs Council referenced above constituted “EU legislation”, as defined in section 29. It therefore held an enquiry into the EU and UK Government documents concerning their negotiation positions. Specifically, the committee considered how the positions expressed in these documents compared to the political declaration agreed by the UK and EU negotiators on 19 October 2019.

The committee concluded both parties in the negotiations had diverged since the UK and EU negotiators agreed the political declaration on 19 October 2019. It argued the “scale of the challenge ahead, if agreement is to be reached before the end of 2020, was clear”.

On 16 March 2020, the House of Lords is due to debate two motions:

Lord True, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, to move that this House takes note of the “Command Paper the Future relationship with the EU: The UK’s Approach to Negotiations”.

The Earl of Kinnoull, chair of the European Union Committee, to move that this House “agrees with the conclusion of the European Union Select Committee, that the Council Decision authorising the opening of negotiations for a new partnership with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, published in draft on 3 February 2020, and adopted in amended form by the General Affairs Council on 25 February 2020, raises matters of vital national interest to the United Kingdom”.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town to move, as an amendment to the above motion, at end insert “and notes the undertaking of Her Majesty’s Government in paragraph 40 of the Department for International Trade’s summary of responses to a public consultation on trade negotiations with the United States, published on 18 July 2019, to “draw on the expertise and experience of Parliamentarians” by working with a parliamentary committee which would be afforded “access to sensitive information” during the process, before taking a “comprehensive and informed position on the final agreement”; and therefore calls on Her Majesty’s Government to ensure that, in a manner consistent with the European Commission’s treatment of the European Parliament, both Houses of Parliament are able to receive regular updates from ministers, scrutinise all relevant policy documents and legal texts, and debate the terms of emerging agreements, as negotiations on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union progress.”

Documents to download

Related posts

  • UK position on foreign affairs

    In 2021 the government published an integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy. It published a refreshed review in March 2023 to take account of developments in foreign affairs over the preceding two years. The government has since published a number of policy papers and strategies to complement the refreshed review. In addition, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton was appointed as foreign secretary in November 2023.

    UK position on foreign affairs
  • River pollution and the regulation of private water companies

    Only 14% of rivers in England have a good ecological status and none have a good chemical status. Agriculture, wastewater and diffuse urban pollution are the main sources of pollution affecting water bodies in England. In recent years, the failure of water companies to prevent sewage discharges has attracted attention, and questions have been asked about whether the government and bodies such as Ofwat and the Environment Agency are doing enough to regulate water companies and enforce environmental law.

    River pollution and the regulation of private water companies
  • Supporting Myanmar’s health system

    A military coup in Myanmar in February 2021 has led to widespread conflict and has had a severe impact on its health care system. Many health care workers have been involved in civil disobedience and protests against the coup, including boycotts. Organisations such as the WHO and Insecurity Insight have also reported on attacks on health care in the country. Since February 2021, the UK government has provided over £120mn in humanitarian and development assistance in Myanmar.

    Supporting Myanmar’s health system