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Common UK policy frameworks

Receiving evidence

Background

Following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, it was necessary for the UK Government and the devolved administrations to create common UK-wide approaches - or ‘frameworks’ - in policy areas that are governed by EU law, but that are within the competence of the devolved administrations or legislatures.

On 16 October 2017, the Joint Ministerial Committee (EU negotiations) published a communique (PDF, 71.8KB) that sets out the principles that will govern the frameworks.

The communique states that common frameworks will be established where they are necessary in order to:

  • enable the functioning of the UK internal market, while 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.

On 9 March 2018, the UK Government published a provisional assessment (PDF, 197KB) of areas of EU law that intersect with devolved competence in each devolved administration  The framework analysis covers 153 different policy areas, including agriculture and environmental policy, and concludes that there are:

  • 49 areas where no further action is required;
  • 82 areas where non-legislative frameworks may be required;
  • 24 areas where legislative common framework arrangements might be needed.

The analysis also concluded that there are 12 policy areas that the UK Government believe to be reserved but that are subject to ‘ongoing discussion’ with the devolved governments. These include protected food names and state aid.

On 4 April 2019, the UK Government published a revised breakdown (PDF, 342KB) of the areas of EU law that intersect with the devolved administrations.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act

On 25 April 2018, the Welsh and UK Governments published an Intergovernmental Agreement (PDF, 125KB) on the EU Withdrawal Bill (now Act) and the establishment of common frameworks. The Agreement allows devolved legislatures to legislate on any areas within their powers. However, it also places restrictions on the 24 devolved areas highlighted in the framework analysis above, which are under discussion. The Agreement further sets out the political undertakings in relation to creating legislative common frameworks.

During 2018, ‘deep dive’ exercises took place within the areas identified by the UK Government as intersecting with devolved powers, to investigate what UK-wide common frameworks might look like. The UK Government and the devolved governments are currently still working on future UK-wide common frameworks.

The Act also requires the UK Government to report to the UK Parliament relating to common frameworks:

  • the first report (PDF, 238KB) was published on 13 November 2018 covering the period from 26 June to 25 September 2018
  • the second report (PDF, 1.48MB) was published on 7 February 2019, covering the period from 26 September 2018 to 25 December 2018
  • the third report (PDF, 465KB), covering the period from 26 December 2018 to 25 March 2019 was published on 16 May 2019
  • the fourth report (PDF, 931KB), covering the period from 26 March 2019 to 25 June 2019 was published on 17 July 2019

The Assembly and common frameworks

The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee published a report (PDF, 379KB) on UK common frameworks relating to agriculture and environment in July 2018.

The External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee has held frequent scrutiny sessions with Welsh and UK Government ministers to scrutinise the process of framework creation. The Committee will continue to hold these sessions.

On Monday 14 January 2019, the Committee held an expert panel evidence session on the development of common UK policy frameworks and legislating for Brexit. This was followed up with a further expert panel evidence session on 17 June 2019, focussing on the scrutiny of common UK policy frameworks.

The Chair wrote to the Counsel General and Brexit Minister on 7 May 2019 to request further information on the Welsh Government’s position in relation to each of the areas identified in the UK Government’s provisional assessment as intersecting with Welsh devolved competence.

In response, the Committee received a technical briefing from Welsh Government officials at their meeting on 20 May 2019, and the Counsel General and Brexit Minister followed this up with a letter to the Chair on 24 May 2019.

The Committee held a scrutiny session with the Counsel General and Brexit Minister on 3 June 2019 at which the Counsel General and Brexit Minister answered questions about common UK policy frameworks.

On 3 July 2019 the UK Government issued a written statement on common frameworks and intergovernmental relations, announcing the publication of four documents:

1. a progress report on the formation of the common frameworks;

2. a document outlining key phases necessary to deliver the common frameworks and;

3. an outline framework relating to Hazardous Substances Planning.

4. a set of draft principles for intergovernmental relations.

The Counsel General and Brexit Minister wrote to the Chairs of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee, and the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee to draw their attention to the publications, and to state that he welcomes the progress made on common frameworks.

The Committee published a report on UK-wide common policy frameworks - discussion paper (PDF, 223KB) in August 2019. The paper aims to provide an overview of what frameworks are and what Assembly committees might need to consider in terms of scrutiny.

Keeping in touch

If you'd like to know more about the work of the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee, please view its homepage, follow its Twitter account or contact the team that supports the Committee at SeneddEAAL@assembly.wales

The Committee sends a regular Brexit Update email. If you'd like to receive this in your inbox, please email SeneddEAAL@assembly.wales to request this.

 

Business type: Ministerial Scrutiny

Reason considered: Assembly Business;

Status: For consideration

First published: 11/01/2019

Documents

 

 

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