October 25, 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).
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.
Independent civil society organisations, including non-governmental organisations, business and employers’ organisations, as well as trade unions, are eligible to participate.
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 was 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 ran for seven weeks from 9 August 2021 to 21 September 2021 and received 66 responses from a variety of stakeholders (businesses, charities and NGOs) representing all four nations of the UK.
The key themes emerging from the responses were:
- the frequency of DAG meetings, including the use of virtual meetings and other online tools, and the topics of discussion, whether thematic or issue-focused;
- transparency around the TCA engagement structures including the publication of membership lists, minutes and papers produced; and
- the importance of the membership of both fora to have relevant expertise, technical knowledge and representation from all four nations of the UK.
The Government has provided its response to each of these key themes and has also published documents for “expression of interest” for membership of both the DAG and the CSF.
The Government says that following the expression of interest campaign, it will determine membership while ensuring that involvement in these groups is as balanced as it can be, including considering geographical and regional representation.
An official response on the outcome of the expression of interest campaign will be published as soon as possible following the closure of the campaign, and in any case ahead of the first meeting of the DAG. To access the Government’s response to the consultation, click here. To access the expression of interest documents, click here.