Back to Brexit Matters: Commission Statement pursuant to EU-UK Joint Committee meeting
With COVID-19 wreaking havoc across the European Union, and indeed the world, Brexit seemed to have been put on the back-burner. But that is not the case. The first EU-UK Joint Committee, set up by the EU and UK to implement the Withdrawal Agreement, and which meets at the request of the EU or UK, took place yesterday by teleconference. A subsequent meeting has been scheduled for June. (The Committee’s Rules of Procedure can be found in Annex VIII of the Withdrawal Agreement.)
Concerning the implementation and application of the Withdrawal Agreement, the agenda in particular concerned citizens’ rights, and the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.
The European Commission has issued a statement following that first meeting, calling the ‘proper and timely implementation’ of the Agreement a ‘key priority’ for the EU, and which is important to safeguard the rights of 4.5 million EU citizens and UK nationals, maintain peace and stability in the context of the Good Friday Agreement, and protect the Single Market. It called for implementation to be carried out by both sides with ‘rigour and discipline’.
Concerning citizens’ rights, the Commission pointed out that there was continued dialogue on ensuring that EU citizens can register as lawful residents in the UK to enjoy rights preserved under the Withdrawal Agreement, and confirmed support for, and monitoring of, Member States in doing the same for UK nationals in the EU under the Agreement.
As for Northern Ireland and Ireland, the Commission’s statement more strongly referred to the ‘urgent need to present a detailed timetable and proceed with the necessary measures’, in particular referring to customs procedures, necessary sanitary and phytosanitary controls, and other regulatory checks for goods entering Northern Ireland, and noting the impact on businesses that require reliable and clear answers without delay.
The last point mentioned in the Commission’s statement is that the work of six Specialised Committees will be going ahead – on citizens’ rights; the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland; Gibraltar; Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus; financial provisions; and other separation provisions. These Committees will draft recommendations for decision by the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.
The statement can be viewed here.