Documents to download

The Joint Committee

The October 2019 Withdrawal Agreement (WA) set out arrangements relating to the UK’s exit from the EU. It was ratified by both the UK and EU in January 2020 and came into force following the UK’s exit from the EU on 31 January.

The WA established a Joint Committee, which is “responsible for the implementation and application of [the] Agreement” (Article 164). The UK and EU will seek to resolve any disputes regarding the application of the agreement within the Joint Committee. But if no solution can be reached, disputes will be referred to an arbitration panel.

The Committee is co-chaired by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, for the UK (with the Paymaster General Penny Mordaunt, as his alternate) and European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič for the EU.

Decisions have to be agreed by both sides. The Joint Committee has powers to amend the WA in a limited number of areas, but cannot amend essential elements of the WA.

The Joint Committee held its first meeting on 30 March, and a second meeting on 12 June. Its next meeting is expected to take place in September.

Specialised Committees

Below the Joint Committee sit six ‘Specialised Committees’ that cover the following parts of the Withdrawal Agreement:

  • Citizens’ rights
  • Other separation provisions
  • Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland
  • Protocol on Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus
  • Protocol on Gibraltar
  • Financial provisions

While discussions on the above areas will take place in these Specialised Committees, under the Withdrawal Agreement only the Joint Committee can make binding decisions.

Tasks to be completed by the WA

The WA delegated some arrangements relating to UK separation from the EU and to governance of the agreement to the Joint Committee to decide upon. This includes tasks relating to the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

Some of these tasks have specific deadlines. Some need to be implemented by the end of transition period (31 December 2020). There are other ongoing tasks that will continue for as long as the WA is in force.

The briefing paper includes a table which sets out the tasks assigned to the Joint Committee, with further background information. It indicates whether or not the tasks have been completed.

Further reading

For more information on the Joint Committee and the governance structures established by the WA, see section 7 of Commons Library briefing paper 8453 The UK’s EU Withdrawal Agreement. Note this briefing was on the November 2018 version of the WA. The WA was revised in October 2019, but the governance structures and the main body of the agreement remained unchanged. The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland was substantially revised. See Commons Library briefing paper 8713, The October 2019 EU UK Withdrawal Agreement

Documents to download

Related posts