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Academics and experts questioned on the level playing field

27 February 2020

What role do level playing field provisions play in trade agreements, and how do they compare to the EU's approach to negotiations with the UK? The EU Internal Market Sub-Committee will be exploring these and other questions with experts on international trade and labour standards.

Areas of discussion

The level playing field is emerging as a likely critical point in negotiations on the future relationship, with the Government and the Commission starting from opposite but equally strong positions. In this first evidence session, the Committee intends to explore the nature and scope of level playing provisions in existing EU trade agreements – especially in the areas of labour protection and subsidy control – and key differences with the Commission's approach to UK-EU negotiations.


Thursday 27 February, Committee Room 4a, Palace of Westminster

At 10.15am

  • 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 
  • Ms Nicola Smith, Joint Head of Equality and Strategy, Trades Union Congress

Possible questions include:

  • 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?
  • 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?

Further Information