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Devolution talks take a considerable step forward

Summary and communique following discussions between the UK Government and Devolved Administrations on EU withdrawal.

Discussions between the UK Government and the devolved administrations on the EU Withdrawal Bill have taken ‘a considerable step forward’, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster David Lidington MP said today after chairing the Joint Ministerial Committee meeting in the Cabinet Office.

Mr Lidington said the Scottish and Welsh Government Ministers had acknowledged that the changes the UK Government is proposing to Clause 11 of the Bill represent good progress. Ministers agreed to meet again as soon as possible to try and reach an agreement.

Speaking after the Joint Ministerial Committee (European Negotiations) meeting in Whitehall, David Lidington said:

“We had a constructive discussion today. We have not yet secured an agreement but have agreed to meet again in the very near future to crack this.

“The Devolved Administrations acknowledged that the proposal we offered yesterday was a significant step forward.

“We want to find an agreed way forward that respects and strengthens the devolution settlements and which also provides certainty for businesses and families as we depart the EU.

“As we have always been clear, it is our intention that the Devolved Administrations will have more powers as a result of this process.

“It is also very important that we protect the UK internal market and ensure that companies all across the UK are able to buy and sell freely.”

Joint Ministerial Committee (EU negotiations) communique, 22 February 2018

The seventh Joint Ministerial Committee (EU Negotiations) met today in 70 Whitehall. The meeting was chaired by the Rt Hon David Lidington MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office.

The attending Ministers were:

From the UK Government:

  • the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, Rt Hon David Lidington MP
  • the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, Rt Hon David Davis MP
  • the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP
  • the Secretary of State for Wales, Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP
  • the Secretary of State for Scotland, Rt Hon David Mundell MP

From the Welsh Government:

  • Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mark Drakeford AM

From the Scottish Government:

  • the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, Michael Russell MSP

In the absence of Ministers from the Northern Ireland Executive, a senior civil servant from the Northern Ireland Civil Service was in attendance.

The Chair opened the meeting by summarising the constructive bilateral engagement with the Scottish and Welsh governments, including political developments that had taken place since JMC(EN) last met. The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU provided an update on the previous rounds of negotiations with the EU. The Committee discussed forthcoming priorities, including the implementation period and the future relationship with the EU.

The Committee discussed the role of the Devolved Administrations in contributing to the process of developing the UK position in the next phase of negotiations with the EU on the future relationship. The Committee noted the engagement that had taken place between UK Government and Devolved Administration officials since the previous meeting to open discussion on the future economic and security partnerships. Engagement would continue with the aim of ensuring the Devolved Administrations were fully involved in developing the UK’s negotiating position, while respecting the UK Government’s role as negotiator.

The Committee discussed the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, including the proposal to amend clause 11. It was noted that progress had been made, but agreement had not yet been reached between the UK Government, Scottish Government and Welsh Government on the form of an amendment. Discussions on further detail would continue in the coming weeks.

The Committee discussed progress on common frameworks. Multilateral official level discussions had explored a range of areas where common frameworks may be required, including where legislative and non-legislative approaches could be appropriate. These discussions were ongoing.

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