My Lords, I was very pleased to add my name to this amendment, and I congratulate the right reverend Prelate on his introduction to it. As he says, what is not to like about it? It reflects the Prime Minister’s policy and intent, and it provides an opportunity for the Government to negotiate with Brussels with the good will and strength of Parliament behind them. So why not accept it? It seems to me an excellent amendment.
Whether we are talking about the Brexit debate or about the people dealing with Europe, I am struck that the European institutions that citizens generally know about most are the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. However, it is an absolute fact that these agencies, which are relatively new in the evolution of the European Union, are among the key instruments under which Europe works. They are among the most efficient, benefiting from huge economies of scale in expertise and costs to industry and other organisations within the Union; they are very successful; and they are highly regarded not just within the European Union but internationally. That is why it is so important that we as a country, whether we leave or not—although we are on a trajectory to leave—should stay in strong contract with these agencies. Many of them are major determinants in British industry being able to access and work with the European single market in the future.
I am the chair of your Lordships’ European Union Energy and Environment Sub-Committee. When we looked at Brexit and the environment, 100% of the witnesses from UK industry who appeared before us or sent us written evidence were very clear that we should stay as close as possible to EU chemicals policy regulation and the REACH regime. They did not want to have to manufacture a third set of rules and regulations—not just for North America and the EU but our own as well. That was a fundamental aim of the industry.
One of our more recent reports concerned the internal energy market. The Prime Minister also mentioned this in her speech as something we need to stay near to, and it is an enterprise that Britain has led. I doubt that even Members of your Lordships’ House have heard of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, but it will be an important element of, and part of the jigsaw of, our energy security and energy prices in the future.
We have already mentioned Europol and the European Medicines Agency. Just like REACH for the chemicals industry, it is very important for the pharmaceutical industry that we stay part of the EMA and avoid huge duplication in development and approval costs.
For all those reasons, we need, if we can, to stay part of and be a participant in those agencies. Many of them currently have observers from the EEA states. The European Space Agency is not a European agency as such but Canada and other members are associates of it. Maybe that is a model we could persuade the EU 27 to follow. We also need to take into account the “soft” area. This is not just about being an associate member; the knowledge and work inside the European Union institutions determine markets and how industry needs to work in the future. By retaining involvement in those institutions, we will have that information, contact and networking, which otherwise we will forsake. For that reason, I believe it is very important to support the amendment.