The Withdrawal Agreement established a ‘Joint Committee’ to oversee the implementation, application and interpretation of the Withdrawal Agreement. The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee recently published the government response to the report prepared by the Committee on the Northern Ireland Protocol: Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee Decisions and Declarations of 17 December 2020. The government response was received from Lord Frost (Minister of State at the Cabinet Office) on 11 June 2021.
One of the main highlights of the response involved the government acknowledging and agreeing with the fact that the Joint Committee is of significant legal and political importance. Subsequently, the government further agreed that this requires robust mechanisms for transparency and parliamentary scrutiny.
The Committee urged the government to look again at how it can better inform the committee and the House of Commons of upcoming Joint Committee business and facilitate the scrutiny of binding decisions before they are adopted. The Committee further added that the information provided by the government on the activities of the Joint Committee has, to date, been incomplete and made available too late to allow for the meaningful engagement of the House and affected stakeholders.
The Committee noted that it is looking to build a collaborative approach to scrutiny of Joint Committee activity with Parliament, and welcome advice and experience from European Scrutiny Committee members in particular.
The government also included the following topics in their response:
- Drug precursors
- Trade related instruments
- Good that are at risk of entering the EU Single Market under the Northern Ireland Protocol
- Transparency of the impact of Articles 5 (1) and (2) of the Protocol on internal UK trade
- UK Trader Scheme under Article 3 of Joint Committee Decision 4 / 2020
- Duty waiver and reimbursement schemes under Article 5 (6) of the Protocol
More information on the government’s response can be found here.