19th November 2020, 19:50
The Chairman of the House of Lords EU select Committee has today written a letter to Cabinet Minister Michael Gove, expressing concerns about the loss of EU funding for the Overseas Territories, and the potential impact of Brexit on Financial Services and Freedom of Movement.
The letter, signed by Lord Kinnoull, refers to all the OT’s but says a separate letter with specific issues relating to Gibraltar will also be sent.
The House of Lords European Union Select Committee is appointed to scrutinise the UK Government’s policies and conduct in negotiations on the UK-EU relationship.
The letter, addressed to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, refers mostly to the other OTs and indicates that another letter regarding Gibraltar specifically will be sent to Michael Gove.
Nevertheless, Lord Kinnoull refers to unanswered questions regarding the impact of Brexit on the OTs dating back to September 2017.
The then Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis, replied at the time, that it was too early on in the negotiations to be able to provide a definitive response to many of the Committee’s questions.
However, with UK-EU negotiations now drawing to a close, the Chairman of the EU Select Committee says he would like an update on the implications of the UK’s withdrawal for the Overseas Territories.
He asks how the UK Government plans to cover any financial gap resulting from the loss of EU funding. In particular as regards the European Development Fund and BEST – the Voluntary Scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
Lord Kinnoull stressed the importance of Financial Services to some of the Overseas Territories. He asks what steps will be taken to ensure the UK continues to provide support in discussions with the EU about financial services cooperation, equivalence, data protection cooperation, and related matters, including best practice and transparency.
On Freedom of Movement, he asks what measures are being taken to mitigate the impact from the loss of EU freedom of movement rights for British citizens in the OTs.
Regarding negotiations, Lord Kinnoull asks about the steps taken to ensure the concerns and interests of the OTs have been taken into account and whether discussions are now taking place on a bilateral basis. He says the next Joint Ministerial Council for the Overseas Territories is due to meet between the 23-26th November and requests an update on this by the 3rd December, as well as an account of the outcome of UK-EU negotiations.