Call for evidence launched on the UK-EU relationship
21 July 2022
The House of Lords European Affairs Committee launches a wide-ranging inquiry into the UK-EU relationship and is interested in receiving written submissions by 28 October 2022.
- Call for written evidence
- Send a written submission
- Inquiry: The UK-EU relationship
- European Affairs Committee
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, and the transition period ended on 31 December 2020. The UK-EU relationship is currently governed by the Withdrawal Agreement (agreed on 17 October 2019) and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (agreed on 24 December 2020).
The European Affairs Committee, established in April 2021, has so far conducted discrete inquiries into specific policy areas relevant to the UK-EU relationship, including the rights of UK and EU citizens, trade in goods between Great Britain and the EU, and the UK-EU relationship in financial services – all of which have culminated in the publication of substantial reports.
In this inquiry, the Committee will seek to take a step back and examine the overarching state of UK-EU relations, particularly in the context of ongoing geopolitical developments in Europe and explore how the relationship might be developed or improved. The Committee’s inquiry will also seek to shed light on the UK-EU relationship by examining several specific areas that it has identified either as ongoing issues of concern or as opportunities for future cooperation. The inquiry will encompass the following four topics:
- The overall UK-EU political, diplomatic, and institutional relationship;
- The UK-EU relationship on foreign policy and security;
- The UK-EU relationship on environment and climate change matters;
- The UK-EU relationship on culture, education, and movement of people.
Taken together, the Committee anticipates that these topics will form the building blocks of a wide-ranging report that will take stock of the current state of UK-EU relations, and the options that the Government might pursue for developing and improving the relationship in the future.
The Committee invites interested individuals and organisations to submit written evidence to this inquiry by 28 October 2022. Public evidence sessions are expected to take place between September and December, and the Committee aims to report to the House by Spring 2023.
The Committee’s call for evidence asks the following questions:
The overall political, diplomatic and institutional relationship
1. How would you describe the current state of UK-EU relations? Has this changed since the end of the transition period and, if so, how and why?
a. How would you characterise the current levels of trust between the UK and the EU?
b. To what extent is the state of the overall political relationship affecting UK-EU cooperation in specific policy areas? If so, how and why?
2. Are there any future developments in the EU or the UK that you would identify as having a significant impact on the UK-EU relationship?
a. What, if any, is the likely impact on the UK of any future enlargement of the EU, particularly into Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans?
b. French President Emmanuel Macron has recently advocated the creation of a new European Political Community, which could encompass non-EU states such as the UK. Do you think this is likely to come to fruition? If it did, what are the implications for the UK and its relationship with the EU?
3. Are the institutional architectures of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) functioning as intended? If not, how could their functioning be improved within the existing framework?
a. Is the UK-EU institutional framework fit for purpose? If not, what changes could or should be made?
b. Would UK/EU relations benefit from regular summit-level meetings? If so, what form and how frequent should these be?
4. What role should the UK play in the Council of Europe now that it has left the EU?
The foreign policy and security relationship
5. How would you assess the current state of UK-EU cooperation on foreign policy, security and defence?
6. Has the absence of an institutional framework for structured UK-EU cooperation on foreign policy, security and defence made it more difficult for the UK and the EU to work together in this area?
a. Previously, the Government has argued that an institutionalised framework is not necessary for the purposes of UK-EU foreign policy, security and defence cooperation. Do you agree with this position?
b. Would an institutionalised framework for UK-EU foreign policy and security cooperation add value? What form might such a framework take if it is to be successful?b. Should the UK Government seek to deepen cooperation with the EU on foreign policy, security and defence and, if so, how?
c. In your assessment, would the EU be amenable to deepening cooperation with the UK in this area? If so, on what terms?
7. How would you assess the quality of UK-EU cooperation over the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
a. Should Russia’s invasion of Ukraine trigger a wider rethink of UK-EU foreign policy, security and defence cooperation?
8. What, if anything, are the possible implications for the UK of ongoing and future developments in the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)? You may wish to comment in particular on the following:
a. The implications for the UK of the EU’s approach to ‘strategic autonomy’ in foreign policy;
b. The implications for the UK of a possible move towards Qualified Majority Voting in EU foreign and security policy;
c. The implications for UK defence procurement of the launch of the European Defence Fund.
9. How should cooperation with the EU on foreign policy, security and defence relate to the UK’s participation in other international fora, such as the G7, NATO, and the Council of Europe?
a. The 2022 NATO Strategic Concept states that “For the development of the strategic partnership between NATO and the EU, non-EU Allies’ fullest involvement in EU defence efforts is essential.” As a non-EU Member of NATO, how should the UK approach the relationship between NATO and the EU?
b. In its most recent Annual Work Programme the European Commission proposed a new EU/NATO Joint Declaration. What might the implications of this be for UK-EU relations?
Environment and climate change
10. How would you assess the current state of UK-EU cooperation on environment and climate change matters?
a. To what extent are the UK and the EU aligned in their overall aims in this area?
11. Should the UK seek to link its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) with that of the EU?
12. A proposed EU Regulation on a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) potentially applies to Northern Ireland under the terms of the Protocol. Focusing on its wider policy implications, what impact would the EU CBAM have on policy in Great Britain?
a. The UK Government is currently consulting on introducing its own CBAM. If it did so, what would be the implications of this for the relationship with the EU?
13. Are there any changes you would like to see the Government pursue as far as the UK-EU relationship on environment and climate change is concerned?
a. To what extent would these require negotiation with the EU?
Culture, education and mobility
14. How important are cultural and educational links to the overall UK-EU relationship and the UK’s soft power?
a. The UK Government opted not to participate in the EU’s Erasmus+ programme for student exchanges. What has been the impact of this decision on universities and students?
b. The Government has launched a domestic alternative to the Erasmus+ programme - the Turing scheme. To what extent has this been an adequate replacement for the Erasmus+ programme?
c. How has Brexit impacted school visits between the UK and the EU?
15. Are there any changes you would like to see the Government pursue as far as the UK-EU cultural and educational relationship is concerned?
a. To what extent would these require negotiation with the EU?
16. What has been the impact of the TCA’s mobility provisions on UK businesses and individuals, and particularly on young people?
a. Is the cultural sector well served by the current arrangements?
b. Is the travel sector well served by the current arrangements?
c. To what extent is it possible to distinguish between the impact of Brexit-related restrictions to business mobility on the one hand, and Covid-related travel restrictions and working patterns on the other?
d. Have Brexit-related restrictions to mobility become more apparent as international travel has resumed?
17. Are there any changes you would like to see the Government pursue as far as UK-EU mobility is concerned?
a. To what extent would these changes require negotiation, either with the EU or bilaterally with Member States?