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What are Common Frameworks?

29 September 2020

The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union will result in a number of powers that are currently held by the EU being returned to the UK. Many of these powers currently intersect with the competencies of at least one of the Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish governments.

Common Frameworks are a mechanism for the UK and devolved governments to mutually agree some amount of regulatory consistency for policy areas where returning EU powers are within devolved competence. They are sector-specific and jointly agreed between the UK Government and Devolved Administration(s).

The principles for when a Common Framework is needed were agreed between the four administrations in a communiqué in October 2017. This stated that Common Frameworks will be established where they are necessary to:

  • Enable the functioning of the UK Internal Market, whilst acknowledging policy divergence
  • Ensure compliance with international obligations
  • Ensure the UK can negotiate, enter into and implement new trade agreements and international treaties
  • Enable the management of common resources
  • Administer and provide access to justice in cases with a cross-border element
  • Safeguard the security of the UK

These Common Frameworks may be implemented by legislation, executive action, memorandums of understanding or other means depending on the context in which the framework is intended to operate.

Common Frameworks are expected on a wide variety of topics, from the UK Emissions Trading System to food safety. The UK Government has published an analysis of the different areas where these frameworks are being developed.

The Common Frameworks Scrutiny Committee has been appointed by the House of Lords to scrutinise and consider matters relating to these frameworks.