Civil Society call for democratic control of EU-UK trade relations
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Dear members of the European Parliament,
As civil society organisations from the UK and the EU, we want to express our concerns regarding the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement which is currently provisionally applied and is to be ratified by the European Parliament at the end of April.
We are observing the ratification process with concern and scepticism. We believe it is being rushed through without sufficient public and, above all, parliamentary debate. In particular, the UK Parliament had insufficient time to properly scrutinise the deal and was not properly involved in negotiations. It is therefore even more important that the European Parliament resists the pressure to ratify within the short, two-month time-frame. The deal needs significant improvement and the Parliament must be able to play a part in this. A clear opportunity to improve the deal and increase the role of both parliaments is the negotiation of the financial services chapter which is yet to be agreed: corporate lobbying threatens to undermine public interest, making it essential that elected representatives are fully engaged.
Like many members of the Parliaments in the EU and the UK, we are also concerned about the lack of democratic control within the agreement. In particular, the UK government has outlined no role for its own parliament in the deal. Similarly, the EU-Commission is still hesitant to give the European Parliament a stronger voice: In a “living agreement” such as the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, it is crucial to make sure that Parliaments – i.e the European Parliament and the House of Commons – have a strong role and exercise democratic control over the evolvement of the agreement.
For that purpose, the EU-Commission and the UK-government should make sure that the role of Parliaments on both sides is strengthened with respect to the decisions of the Partnership Council (PC) – which is allowed to form new committees and can also adapt the trade and cooperation agreement itself. The European Parliament and the House of Commons should be able to make their own proposals in respect of both committees and changes to the deal. They should also be involved in all initiatives of the Partnership Council or other specialised committees within the agreement.
Ahead of the ratification, we call on the European Parliament to increase pressure for future EU-UK trade relations to remain under democratic control by Parliaments on both sides of the channel.