UK participation in EU and EEA organisations

Part of Trade Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:45 pm ar 25 Mehefin 2020.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for International Trade 4:45, 25 Mehefin 2020

On new clause 21, regarding the parameters of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, the Government have made it clear that our priority is to ensure that we restore our economic and political independence on 1 January 2021. The approach to the future relationship with the EU has already been extensively discussed not just in the previous Parliament but in this one, particularly during the debates on the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020. During those debates and subsequently, the Government have been clear that we want a relationship with the EU that is based on friendly co-operation between sovereign equals and centred on free trade. That is what Taskforce Europe, working with the Prime Minister, is pursuing.

The UK published its approach to the negotiation of a future relationship with the EU on 27 February 2020. Our approach builds on the EU’s offer of a Canada-style deal. It reflects the type of free trade agreement that should be achievable between sovereign states that respect each other’s independence, as the EU has done in the past. We will discuss with the EU how to manage our friendly relations, but any solution has to respect our legal and political autonomy. Members will be aware that there are very limited options for third-country membership of EU bodies. We have been clear that we will be operating on the basis of existing precedents and no acceptance of the European Court of Justice.

However, I acknowledge that members of the Committee are looking for reassurance about the Government’s approach to negotiations with the EU in relation to the four bodies listed in the new clause. On the European Medicines Agency, we have stated that the UK-EU FTA should include commitments to co-operate on pharma co-vigilance, and to develop a comprehensive confidentiality agreement between regulators, in line with agreements between the European Medicines Agency and Swiss, US and Canadian authorities. The UK’s published response in respect of the European Chemicals Agency states that the UK-EU FTA should include a commitment to develop a memorandum of understanding to enhance co-operation further, similar to the MOUs that the European Chemicals Agency has agreed with Australia and Canada.

On the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, the UK’s published position is that we have proposed a bilateral aviation safety agreement that will facilitate the recognition of aviation safety standards between the UN and the EU, minimising the regulatory burden for industry. On the European Maritime Safety Agency, the UK is discussing with the EU how best to manage our friendly relations, but any solution has to respect our red line of no commitments to follow EU law, and no acceptance of the ECJ.

It is important to be clear that, in our negotiations with the EU, we are not asking for a special, bespoke or unique deal; we are looking for a deal like those that the EU has previously struck with other friendly countries such as Canada. I hope the confirmation of the Government’s approach to the four agencies mentioned in the new clause has reassured the Committee, and I ask the hon. Member for Harrow West to withdraw the new clause.