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Committee reports on Gibraltar-Spain border arrangements and European Investment Bank

21 October 2020

In its latest report, the European Scrutiny Committee considers recent draft EU legislation and policy documents deposited in Parliament by the Government.

Each document is accompanied by an Explanatory Memorandum from the relevant Minister. The Committee examines the legal and political importance of the document and where appropriate asks further questions of the Government about its implications. The Committee also has the power to recommend documents for debate.

In its latest report the Committee highlights the importance of several documents, and how it intends to follow up with Government. These include:

HO – Strengthening the security of identity cards and residence documents

Important because:

  • The Regulation, which will apply from August 2021, enhances the security features of identity cards issued to EU citizens, and residence documents for non-EU family members
  • Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, EU citizens resident in the UK before the post-exit transition period ends on 31 December 2020 will continue to be able to travel to the UK using these documents until at least the end of 2025
  • The Regulation also raises wider questions about arrangements at the Gibaltar-Spain border from 1 January 2021.

The Committee’s predecessor noted, in its 2018 analysis of this long-running issue, that the UK may have to develop procedures which allow Border Force personnel to distinguish between EU citizens entitled to travel using identity cards and those required to produce passports on entry to the UK after transition. The Government has finally replied to the Committee, but questions remain about how this will work in practice.

On the issue of Gibraltar, where the border with Spain is considered an external border of the Schengen area and therefore subject to regular customs checks, the Committee has previously noted that the identity cards issued by Gibraltar do not meet the new standards set out in the Regulation.

Whilst the Minister for Future Borders and Immigration says the Government of Gibraltar “will seek the best possible border crossing solution” with Spain from 1 January 2021, he has provided no further details in correspondence with the Committee. The Committee has therefore replied asking for more detailed information as well as the Government’s position on reports that Gibraltar may wish to join the Schengen free movement area.

HMT – UK partnership with the European Investment Bank: potential participation in the InvestEU programme

Important because:

  • This document provides the basis for InvestEU, a multibillion investment scheme developed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Government has confirmed to the Committee that it will not seek to participate in the scheme but has yet to announce how it intends to approach the UK’s future relationship with the EIB.

The Committee has written to the Government seeking further information on how it intends to work with the EIB in the future, given it has repeatedly said it is “open to exploring options.”

Further information

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