• The Report sets out 15 tests with which to judge any Brexit deal, including an open border on the island of Ireland, and no tariffs on trade between the UK and the EU27.
  • The tests give a flavour of what MPs may look for when they vote on the Brexit deal reached by UK and EU negotiators before end March 2019 Brexit day.

The Exiting the European Union Select Committee is one of a number of select committees of the British House of Commons and was established to scrutinise the work of the Department for Exiting the European Union (DxEU). The Committee’s cross-party membership favours “Remain” with 13 of the current 20 members having voted to stay in the EU.

The report, titled “The future UK-EU relationship” and published on 4 April 2018, is the Committee’s 4th report to date. Following the government’s defeat by 4 votes on an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in December last year, the UK Parliament is to be given a “meaningful vote” on the final Brexit deal since a further piece of proposed legislation—the Withdrawal and Implementation Bill—requiring parliamentary approval, will now be needed as the primary vehicle for implementing the withdrawal agreement.

It is vital that UK businesses are able to continue to trade freely and sell services into our largest market after we leave, without additional costs or burdens or a hard border in Northern Ireland, and that we maintain close co-operation on defence, security, data and information sharing and consumer safety.

—Hilary Benn, Chair of the Exiting the EU Committee

The Fifteen Tests

  1. The Irish border The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland must remain open with no physical infrastructure or any related checks and controls.
  2. Crime and Terrorism Arrangements must replicate current operational and practical cross-border cooperation.
  3. GovernanceInstitutional and decision-making frameworks must be identified to ensure that the UK is able fully to participate in foreign and security cooperation with the EU, to meet the challenges it shares with its EU27 neighbours.
  4. No TariffsIn respect of trade in goods, there must be no tariffs on trade between the UK and the EU 27.
  5. No New Border ControlsTrade in goods must continue to be conducted with no additional border or rules of origin checks that would delay the delivery of perishable or time-sensitive deliveries or impede the operation of cross-border supply chains.
  6. No Increase in Cost of TradeThere must be no additional costs to businesses that trade in goods or services.
  7. Continued Market AccessUK providers of financial and broadcasting services must be able to continue to sell their products into EU markets as at present.
  8. Mutual Recognition of Regulatory StandardsUK providers of financial and other services should be able to retain automatically, or with minimal additional administration, their rights of establishment in the EU, and vice versa, where possible on the basis of mutual recognition of regulatory standard.
  9. Free Flow of DataThere must be no impediments to the free flow of data between the UK and the EU.
  10. Immigration Rules not to Impede Movement of WorkersAny new immigration arrangements set up between the UK and the EU must not act as an impediment to the movement of workers providing services across borders or to the recognition of their qualifications and their right to practise.
  11. UK Regulations to Converge with the EU’s The UK must seek to maintain convergence with EU regulations in all relevant areas in order to maximise access to European markets.
  12. UK to Continue Membership of Key EU Agencies The UK’s continued participation in the European Medicines Agency, the European Aviation Safety Agency, and the European Chemicals Agency and in other agencies where there is a benefit to continuing co-operation.
  13. UK to Continue Participation in Key EU Programmes The UK’s continued participation in the Horizon 2020 programme, the Erasmus+ scheme, the Galileo project and in other space and research programmes.
  14. UK to Continue in Open Skies Agreement The UK’s continued participation in all relevant air safety agreements and the Open Skies Agreement to ensure no disruption to the existing level of direct flights.
  15. Fishing Quota Allocation to be Fairer The UK government must ensure maximum access to European markets while agreeing reciprocal access to waters and a fairer allocation of fishing opportunities for the UK fishing industry.

The tests are laudable and will play well to businesses seeking certainty of the future state following Brexit. Whether UK negotiators come close to delivering a withdrawal agreement that meets the tests, or even the majority of them, remains to be seen.