EU (Withdrawal) Bill: Update on the EU Charter

Category: Other human rights treaties and mechanisms

26th February 2018

This week, Peers will debate the fate of the Charter of Fundamental Rights under the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

  • Follow the proceedings here.


The general approach of the Bill, now in the House of Lords, is to incorporate EU law into domestic law. However, one exception to this is the EU Charter.


Preserving Charter rights is particularly important in relation to children and young people. Together has previously written on the ways in which removing the Charter could negatively affect children and young people's rights.

  • This briefing can be accessed here.


Together is committed to ensuring that Charter rights are protected after Brexit. Last Thursday our Director, Juliet Harris, visited the House of Lords where she spoke with Peers about the importance of preserving the Charter and urged them to support relevant amendments. Subsequently, Together and the Children's Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) have produced a further briefing for Peers setting out these amendments.

  • This briefing can be accessed here.

 

During the Committee Stage debate on 26th February 2018, reliance was placed on this joint briefing by Peers. Lord Newby said the briefing "argues forcefully and at length, with many details, and gives many examples of why they wish to have the fundamental charter retained".

 

Subsequently, on 27th February 2018 the Scottish Government introduced its own "Continuity Bill". This is a contingency in case MSPs refuse to give legislative consent to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill going through Westminster. Similar to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, the Continuity Bill translates existing EU law in devolved areas into domestic (Scots) law. However, whilst the EU (Withdrawal) Bill removes the Charter, the Continuity Bill seeks to preserve it as part of Scots law after Brexit. The Continuity Bill is "emergency legislation" so will be fast-tracked through the Scottish Parliament. The final debate is scheduled for 21st March 2018.

  • Read the Continuity Bill in full here.
  • Read the Explanatory Notes to the Bill here.
  • Read Human Rights Consortium Scotland's briefing on the rights implications of the Continuity Bill here.

 

Whilst the above developments relate to the "internal" or "domestic" aspects of Brexit, there are also "external" matters which need to be agreed such as the future relationship between the UK and the EU. On this point, the Union published a draft Withdrawal Treaty on 28th February 2018. This is the EU's version of what was agreed at the UK-EU negotiations in December 2017. However, the text has not yet been agreed with the UK Government and contains certain proposals which are likely to meet with resistance. One example is the Charter, which the treaty provides shall be binding on the UK for the duration of any transition period, save for the provisions on EU election rights.

  • Read the draft treaty here
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