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Committee reports on EU state aid rules and future cross-border police co-operation

18 December 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:

BEIS – Evaluation of the EU state aid rulebook: possible implications for the UK

Important because:

  • This Commission working document considers whether EU state aid law – the rules governing subsidies for businesses – is fit for purpose. It concludes there is scope for change to support the EU’s Green Deal and new Digital and Industrial Strategies.
  • The Committee’s Report explains why EU state aid rules will still matter for the UK when the post-exit transition period ends on 31 December 2020.

In summary, EU state aid rules will matter because:

  • They will continue to apply from 1 January 2021 to UK subsidies which “affect” trade in goods and electricity “between Northern Ireland and the [EU]” under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol;
  • As part of the EU-UK negotiations on a free trade agreement, the EU is seeking additional binding commitments on the UK’s new domestic State aid policy after transition;
  • Even in the absence of an EU-UK subsidy control agreement, the EU is likely to seek to 'export’ the application of its State aid regime on a unilateral basis by limiting market access for businesses receiving financial support from “third country” governments; and
  • The UK has a direct economic interest in future developments in EU State aid policy more generally, given that the extent to which EU Member States can subsidise their domestic industries will have an impact on the competitiveness of British businesses that compete with them on the UK market or internationally.

HO – Cross-border police co-operation: Ireland’s participation in the Schengen Information System

Important because:

  • This Council Implementing Decision clears the way for Ireland to participate in the Schengen Information System (SIS II), an EU database supporting cross-border police co-operation, at the same time as the UK prepares to leave.

The UK has participated in SIS II since April 2015, but as the end of the Brexit transition period approaches, the Government has said that as the EU has made future participation conditional on applying the Schengen rule book and freedom of movement rules, it will use Interpol channels for exchange of information in the future.

At the same time Ireland is preparing to join SIS II, and the Committee’s report notes that this may mitigate the impact of the UK’s departure, by underpinning future co-operation between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and An Garda Siochána. This would have clear operational benefits for the UK, even if Ireland is legally constrained in terms of the information it could provide.

Further information

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