The Scottish Government is not alone in looking at legislation to prevent instability and ‘gaps’ when the UK leaves the EU in just over a year, on March 29th 2019.
The Continuity Bill [(UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill] will be debated at Stage 2 of its progress through the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 13th March.
The Continuity Bill bestows no additional powers on the Scottish Parliament but provides what it states: a continuation of those powers it already has.
At the time of writing there are 231 amendments lodged by opposition parties.
The Bill is designed to protect Scotland’s businesses and organisations after Brexit. It also aims to protect the devolved settlement for Scotland which was the will of the People of Scotland.
The EU Referendum result in Scotland was:
- Remain: 62%
- Leave: 38%
- 32 Local Authorities: Remain
- 0 Local Authorities: Leave
What is happening elsewhere in other administrations?
The Assembly of Wales
An emergency Bill has been introduced in the Labour controlled Welsh Assembly: Law Derived from the European Union (Wales) Bill.
“The Bill is intended to preserve EU law covering subjects devolved to Wales on withdrawal of the UK from the EU. Further, it will enable the Welsh Ministers to ensure that legislation covering these subjects works effectively after the UK leaves the EU and the European Communities Act 1972 is repealed by the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.
“The Bill enables the Welsh Ministers to legislate to maintain regulatory alignment with the EU in order to facilitate continued access to the EU market for Welsh Businesses. It also creates a default position in law whereby the consent of the Welsh Ministers will be required before any changes are made by UK Ministers to devolved legislation within the scope of EU law.”
The Welsh Government has stated that it respects the UK decision to Leave the EU.
The EU referendum result in Wales was:
- Leave 52.5%
- Remain 47.5%
- 17 Local Authorities Leave
- 5 Local Authorities Remain
The Welsh Government “also recognises the need for legislation to maintain the effective operation of the law at the point of the UK’s exit from the EU.”
– So retaining control over the powers already devolved to the Welsh Assembly. It will ensure that the Devolution settlement for Wales, which was the will of the People of Wales, is respected.
The Bill in the Welsh Assembly has 4 stages to pass through.
The Northern Ireland Assembly
The Assembly in Northern Ireland is currently suspended.
The EU Referendum Result in N Ireland was:
- Remain: 56%
- Leave: 44%
- 11 Local Authorities Remain
- 7 Local Authorities Leave
The Parliament of Gibraltar
This was the result of the EU referendum in Gibraltar
The UK Government has guaranteed the Government of Gibraltar that on Brexit financial services and online gaming firms will continue to have access to the UK market until 2020. It has made similar guarantees for access to health services and university education.
Gibraltar like Northern Ireland will share a border with an EU state but little attention has been paid to its situation post Brexit.
The 27 countries of the EU have, however,been thinking about it and they propose that Spain has a veto ” on the application to Gibraltar of the transitional period and of the future UK- EU relationship agreement“. This means that Spain could exclude Gibraltar from the transition period or from the future relationship agreement.
Over 13,000 people who live in Spain work in Gibraltar, 8,000 of whom are Spanish nationals.
There does not appear to be a Bill in the Parliament of Gibraltar concerning its status with Brexit but that they are relying on the 2020 guarantees of the UK Government.
The Crown Dependencies and the EU
“The Crown Dependencies’ relationship with the EU is unique. ” Protocol 3 to the UK Treaty of Accession
States Assembly of Jersey
Though not a member of the EU, Jersey has a special relationship with the EU via the UK with regards to trade in goods. This is known as the Protocol 3 relationship. Both Jersey and Guernsey voluntarily use EU legislation or the international standards on which they are based.
Jersey is very keen that this arrangement continues with both the UK and the EU. It is relying on the UK Government to represent its interests at negotiations with rEU.
The Assembly in Jersey has before it a Draft European Union (Repeal and Amendment) (Jersey) Law 201
“The new Law also prepares a framework of powers to enable the Council of Ministers
and States Assembly to –
- implement swift change to other domestic legislation where that is necessary or expedient as a result of Brexit
- bring directly applicable EU law, subject to any modifications that may be required as a result of Brexit, into domestic law.”
It is intended to pass this new Law by May 2018. EU Law which is applicable in Jersey will continue to be so “to ensure that there are no gaps in our legislation after Brexit occurs.”
“It is crucial that Jersey’s Government and the States Assembly are equipped to make
all the necessary corrections to Jersey law in order to ensure a smooth transition for
the Island from its current relationship with the EU to its new relationship.”
The Government of Jersey has made several demands of the UK Government namely that:
- Jersey’s interests should be fully recognised and taken into account during the
Phase 2 negotiations
- sufficient time is required to be able to implement the eventual arrangements that are reached between the UK and the EU, in so far as they have an impact upon Jersey
- the implementation period (or transition period as it is also known) should apply to Jersey in so far as Protocol 3 applies .
More information: BREXIT INFORMATION REPORT: FEBRUARY 2018 UPDATE
The Isle of Man is also preparing a Bill which will include:
• A provision to allow for EU instruments which fall within the scope of Protocol 3 to be incorporated into Isle of Man law
• A provision for Orders and Regulations made under the 1973 Act to continue in force where appropriate (subject to any necessary modifications to accommodate changes in the Island’s relationship with the EU)
• A power to continue to apply EU instruments – voluntarily, and subject to Tynwald approval
• A catch-all provision to allow for instruments which may be deemed to fall within the scope of Protocol 3, but are not included in the Schedule below, to be applied
• A list or schedule of Protocol 3 instruments, which will be deemed to have continued effect in Manx law Isle of Man Government
When the debate on Stage 2 of the Continuity Bill takes place in the Scottish Parliament it will be interesting to hear what the 231 amendments are all about and how necessary they are. It is clear from what is happening in other administrations that they feel the need to protect their current laws whilst the UK Government surges on ahead with the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19 .
And let’s make it clear, none of this is about any extra powers to either Scotland or Wales but to protect what is already there.
The devolved administrations were democratically set up as a result of the desires and aspirations of their People. All of our elected representatives who serve in those devolved parliaments should bear that to the forefront of their minds when Scotland watches how our MSPs conduct themselves during Stage 2 of the debate.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame