August 16, 2021
The TCA states that both the UK and the EU will “consult civil society on the implementation of this Agreement and any supplementing agreement”. This includes engaging domestically through a Domestic Advisory Group (DAG), and UK and EU stakeholders engaging together through a Civil Society Forum (CSF).
TCA Article 13 states that “Each Party shall consult on issues covered by this Agreement and any supplementing agreement its newly created or existing domestic advisory group or groups comprising a representation of independent civil society organisations including non-governmental organisations, business and employers’ organisations, as well as trade unions, active in economic, sustainable development, social, human rights, environmental and other matters.”
The Parties must aim to consult with their DAG at least once per year and the DAG can meet in different formations and virtually. Issues covered by the TCA include trade, energy, air transport, aviation safety, road transport, social security coordination, fisheries, law enforcement and judicial cooperation, and participation in Union Programmes.
The TCA also creates a role for DAGs in the event of a dispute between the UK and the EU in the area of trade and sustainable development.
Independent civil society organisations, including non-governmental organisations, business and employers’ organisations, as well as trade unions are eligible to participate.
TCA Article 14 states that “The Civil Society Forum shall be open for the participation of independent civil society organisations established in the territories of the Parties, including members of the domestic advisory groups referred to in Article 13. Each Party shall promote a balanced representation, including non-governmental organisations, business and employers’ organisations and trade unions, active in economic, sustainable development, social, human rights, environmental and other matters.”
The purpose of the CSF is to conduct a dialogue on Part Two of the TCA: trade, fisheries, social security coordination and short-term visa fees, transport and aviation. It will meet once a year, unless otherwise agreed. It must meet in 2021. The UK-EU Partnership Council will adopt operational guidelines for the conduct of the CSF ahead of its first meeting.
The CSF is open to non-governmental organisations, business and employers’ organisations and trade unions. The Government says that it will promote a balanced representation of attendees from across relevant groups and organisations, and across the UK.
The purpose of the consultation is to seek views on how the Government should engage with business and civil society groups on implementation of the TCA through the DAG and the CSF. The consultation closes on 14 September 2021.
The Government also says that it will be seeking expressions of interest in becoming involved in the DAG or the CSF in the autumn. To access the consultation, click here.