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EU Committee reports on the EU's negotiating directives for UK-EU relationship

5 March 2020

European Union Committee publishes the first report to be made under section 29 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, identifying the Council Decision setting out the European Union's negotiating directives as raising matters of “vital national interest” to the UK.


Section 29 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 empowers scrutiny committees of either House to report on EU legislation that they consider raises matters of “vital national interest to the United Kingdom.”

The Committee's first section 29 report is on the ‘Council Decision authorising the opening of negotiations for a new partnership with the United Kingdom'. The report compares the Council Decision with the Government's statements of the UK position, and the October 2019 Political Declaration on the framework for future UK-EU relations.

The report

The Committee's report underlines the extent to which the two sides have diverged since October's agreement, and thus the scale of the challenge ahead.

The report highlights the common ground between the two sides with regard to trade in goods. But it also notes that the EU's position on creating a ‘level playing field' has hardened. The Government's acceptance that the two sides could make reciprocal commitments to maintaining high standards in competition policy, labour standards, the environment and taxation, leaves open the possibility of agreement. But on State aid the UK and EU positions remain “essentially incompatible”.

The motion

The report proposes a motion which, in accordance with the terms of section 29, will be moved by the Chair of the European Union Committee, Lord Kinnoull, and debated within 14 sitting days of the publication of the report:

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.

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