Beyond Brexit (European Union Committee Report) - Motion to Consider

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 12th May 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Falkner of Margravine Baroness Falkner of Margravine Non-affiliated 5:45 pm, 12th May 2020

My Lords, I too was a member of the committee under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Boswell. It is no understatement to say that his outstanding tenure was undoubtedly during the most eventful period in the committee’s history, and he led us through it most ably.

Given that this report has been overtaken by events, I want to concentrate on the Government’s negotiations and aims, as set out in their February 2020 Command Paper. It sets out five areas where the Joint Committee and dispute resolution systems will not apply. These are mainly areas where the EU is, as we know, particularly concerned about a “level playing field”. I can see the need for the United Kingdom to have regulatory autonomy, particularly as the Covid-related economic shock will lead to EU states adapting differentially to technological change and automation, which will impact directly on some of those areas where the EU wants a level playing field. The Government is therefore right in principle, but I urge them to retain a form of joint dialogue in a structured format, as we will need to have some common approaches to these problems, particularly our competition policy and our policy on those countries that have been blatantly shown to play by a different rule book.

Finally, I turn to financial services, where, the report tells us, the equivalence assessments are separate from the FTA and expected to be completed in June 2020. Will the Minister confirm that that timetable still holds, and, if not, when they are likely to be concluded? As he will appreciate, they are terribly important for our financial services sector as we approach the end of transition.