Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall
Contact: Mr Jim Hanna, Senior Democratic Services Officer 028 9027 0549
Apologies were reported on behalf of Councillors Michael Collins, Graham, McAllister and Newton.
The minutes of the meeting of 22nd August were taken as read and signed as correct. It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 2nd September.
Declarations of Interest
No declarations of interest were reported.
The Committee approved the amended schedule of meetings for the remainder of 2019:
· Thursday, 3rd October at 12.00 – 14:00 (Resilience Template Workshop);
· Monday, 14th October at 17.15 (originally Thursday, 10th October - Change due to Brussels visit on 7-10th October);
· Thursday, 24th October at 17.15 (additional);
· Thursday, 7th November at 17.15 (additional);
· Thursday, 21st November at 17.15;
· Thursday, 5th December at 17.15; and
· Tuesday, 17th December at 17.15 (additional).
The Committee also agreed that the following be invited to attend a future meeting in order to outline their views on the impact of Brexit:
· Victoria Hewson, Head of Regulatory Affairs and Research Associate, Institute of Economic Affairs;
· Dr. Graham Gudgin, Chief Economic Adviser, Policy Exchange, Westminster;
· Representative from Alternative Arrangements/Prosperity UK; and
· Secretary General, Niall Burgess, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dublin.
Department for the Economy - Northern Ireland Trade and Investment Data Under 'No Deal' Paper
Shane Murphy and Wendy Lecky, Department for the Economy, to discuss the Northern Ireland Trade and Investment Data Under 'No Deal' Paper – Published 10th July, 2019 on the following link - https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/publications/northern-ireland-trade-and-investment-data-under-no-deal
The Chairperson welcomed to the meeting Mr. S. Murphy, Head of Analytical Services, and Ms. W. Lecky, Economist, representing the Department for the Economy.
Mr. Murphy presented an overview of the Northern Ireland Trade and Investment Data Under 'No Deal' Paper (copy available here) which had been published on 10th July, 2019. He reminded the Committee that the paper did not represent the NICS’s view on matters of policy around EU Exit, it simply set out the evidence for stakeholders to use.
He advised that Northern Ireland (NI) faced a broad range of direct and indirect impacts in the event of a ‘no deal’ exit. He advised that the impacts were interconnected, for example, businesses and jobs depended on the totality of NI’s internal and external trade. He pointed out that it was difficult to set a limit to the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland and suggested that, due to the wide range of interconnections, the NICS’s assessment remained that a ‘no deal’ would have a profound and long-lasting impact on NI’s economy and society.
He reported that the Department had published various reports on Brexit analysis and highlighted that, following the publication of the aforementioned ‘No Deal’ paper, it had compiled a range of relevant economic related statistics and had published a summary of the available economic information throughout the 11 council areas (available here).
He outlined the risks and impacts of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, which included:
· An increase in unemployment;
· Consequences for both NI’s competitiveness in the all-island economy and NI’s place in the UK internal market;
· The impact of EU tariffs and non-tariff barriers potential impact might result in many businesses no longer being able to export to the Irish market, leading to a major reduction in NI’s exports to Ireland; and
· Analysis of import volumes and commodity prices showed that NI businesses would have increased vulnerability to low cost non-EU imports in the GB or NI market, in particular, for the agri-food sector.
He stated that ‘no deal’ therefore placed pressures on NI’s access to the EU and UK markets, leaving businesses with very limited options and the NI economy would face an absolute reduction in exports and external sales, with tradable services being similarly exposed.
He highlighted that pressure on businesses to change behaviour to remain viable or the exploitation of differentials by organised crime groups could also see an increase in smuggling and had the potential to change behaviours and attitudes in communities, which, over time, would significantly an impact on the culture of lawfulness in NI.
He advised that there would also be an impact on households, such as risk of food price rises, job losses and a risk of downward pressure on wages and investment. He stated that NI’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) attractiveness would be negatively impacted and pointed out that, across all of these risks, it was clear that the majority of businesses did not consider themselves to have a mitigation plans in ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Queen's University and Committee on the Administration of Justice - Human RIghts
Prof. Colin Harvey (QUB) & Daniel Holder (CAJ)
The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting on 22nd August, it had agreed to invite representatives from the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) and Queens’ University to discuss the impact of Brexit on Human Rights. It was reported that Prof. C. Harvey, representing Queen’s University Belfast, and Mr. D. Holder, representing the CAJ, were in attendance and they were admitted to the meeting and welcomed by the Chairperson.
Mr. Holder provided a presentation on the Rights by citizenship status in the post-Brexit context. He suggested that Irish citizens in Northern Ireland would retain some core EU citizens’ rights automatically, most notably rights to basic freedom of movement in the EU, in the same way any EU citizen in an existing third country (i.e. non-EU country) did. However, many subsidiary EU rights, opportunities and benefits would not be automatically retained after Brexit and would require a specific arrangements, such as the European Health Insurance Card and student fees.
He summarised the impact of Brexit on the Good Friday Agreement and highlighted the illustrative table which showed the current two categories of citizenship status in NI, which would become more complex after Brexit.
He stated that the EU Settlement Scheme depended on which deal was agreed upon and explained further the legalities and contradicting elements of the situation of Irish Citizens and the impact of the Settlement Scheme.
He outlined the effect of the EU-UK Joint
Report (Phase 1 Agreement)
He summarised the impending changes to the Associated Reciprocal “Rights” of the Common Travel Area and highlighted the implications of current and future border checks that had the potential to discriminate against citizens.
He concluded with an illustration of a table which showed 13 categories of citizenship status’ in NI, post Brexit, and outlined the impact on access to work, public services, benefits, freedom of movement in the EU and EU rights.
Prof. Harvey advised that Brexit Law NI was a collaborative Economic and Social Research Council funded research project between the Law Schools of Queen’s University Belfast and the Ulster University and the Committee on the Administration of Justice to examine the constitutional, conflict transformation, human rights and equality consequences of Brexit. He stated that further information on the research could be found at www.brexitlawni.org. He suggested that the Council could endorse the annual Human Rights Day which was taking place on 10th December.
He advised that, in relation to a ‘no deal’ Brexit, the evidence suggested that changes to Human Rights Law, post Brexit, would have serious consequences for everyone. He suggested that there were a number of ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Irish Congress of Trade Unions - Workers' Rights
Owen Reidy - Assistant General Secretary
The Chairperson welcomed to the meeting Mr. O.Reidy, Assistant General Secretary, representing the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).
Mr Reidy advised that, in relation to Workers’ Rights, the last offer between the UK Government and the EU had been the best of the unsatisfactory options for Brexit. He suggested that a UK wide backstop would be the preferable option for the workers across the island of Ireland. He stated that he did not believe the last deal, which had been discussed by the UK Government, would have created a border in the Irish Sea.
He advised that he was a member of the Alternative Arrangements Advisory Committee, set up by Department for Exiting the European Union, and he was concerned that the Backstop was unavoidable and a ‘no deal’ Brexit would exacerbate the problem.
He tabled a paper on ‘Preparing for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit’ which detailed ICTU’s proposals to support jobs and workers in Northern Ireland. It included a forecast of the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland in relation to jobs, customs and exports, Foreign Direct Investment, Gross Value Added and inflation.
He reported that ICTU believed that the UK governments’ preparations for Northern Ireland in the event of a ‘no-deal’ had been inadequate. The proposals regarding checks on the border with the Republic of Ireland contained some of the most troubling aspects and ICTU’s main concerns were the deregulation effect on NI and the legal obligation of customs checks. He suggested that to reduce the number of job losses, short term work schemes needed to be agreed by government, such as temporary reduction in hours.
He explained the requirement for a Brexit adjustment fund for businesses, post Brexit, together with the necessity for redundancy grants, so that workers could retrain. He suggested there also needed to be a forum for Social Dialogue for Trade Unions, employers, agricultural sector, community and voluntary sector and other social partners to debate and discuss key social and economic issues that would affect the society and such a Forum should continue, post Brexit.
During discussion, Mr Reidy explained further the collective bargaining power of Trade Unions in relation to Brexit, and ICTU’s proposals for border controls.
The Chairperson thanked Mr. Reidy for attending and he retired from the meeting and the Committee noted the information which had been provided.
Update on Day 1 Preparedness (Verbal Update)
The Strategic Director of City and Neighbourhood Services provided an update on the Civil Contingency Arrangements which included the following:
· The Council would continue to participate in Regional training/exercises;
· The Department for Communities (DfC) funding had been confirmed for Brexit Out of Hours reporting/co-ordination;
· National/NI co-ordination would commence on 14th October;
· The Council’s internal business continuity monitoring/reporting would mirror this;
· Confirmation of funding for any Brexit/concurrent civil contingencies emergencies was still to be confirmed; and
· Multi-agency plans were in place to co-ordinate the response to any local impacts.
He highlighted that work was ongoing to scope potential city impacts and identify any further mitigation possible (especially businesses and vulnerable people) and invitations to deputations were being pursued. He advised that an internal list of voluntary/community groups supported by DfC grants was also being compiled.
He reminded the Committee that an EU Settlement scheme information day would also take place in October.
In relation to the Council’s Critical Services, the Director reported that an internal officer workshop would take place on the 16th September to identify the business resilience impacts and mitigation and an update would be provided at the next meeting.
He advised that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) had made a successful bid to the Department of Finance for £1M to be allocated through FSA to the 11 district councils and up to £145,538.73 had been allocated to the Council for food safety delivery functions, to cover costs in 2019/20.
The Committee noted the update on Brexit Day 1 preparedness.
Update on Visit to Brussels (Verbal Update)
The Business, Research and Development Manager provided an update on the visit to Brussels from 7th - 10th October, and advised that a delegation from NILGA would also be attending the European Week of Regions and Cities.
The Committee considered the following report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
1.1 At its meeting on the 22nd August, the Committee asked that an update on the Shared Prosperity Fund be brought to its next meeting. This paper provides an overview of the Fund and its current status.
2.1 The Committee is asked to note the report.
3.0 Main report
3.1 The 2017 Conservative Manifesto promised a ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’ to replace EU funds after Brexit. The European Structural Investment funds (ERDF, ESF, EMFF, EAFRD and Interreg Va & Peace IV) allocate about £3.5B (£890M for non-agriculture) across NI (2014-20) but this will end with Brexit. In July 2018, the Treasury made assurances that any funding that organisations secure through EU programmes, from then until the end of 2020, will be guaranteed by the UK Government even in a no deal scenario.
Links to the Treasury statement:
3.2 Current EU funding supports a range of areas including research and innovation, digital technologies, the low-carbon economy, sustainable management of natural resources, and small businesses. The replacement Shared Prosperity Fund will aim to reduce inequalities between communities through sustainable, inclusive growth based on the UK Industrial Strategy. A UK Government statement on the fund says it will:
- Tackle inequalities between communities by raising productivity, especially in those parts of our country whose economies are furthest behind.
- Use a simplified process so that investments are targeted based on strong evidence about what works at the local level.
- Engage the devolved administrations to ensure the fund works for places across the UK.
3.3 To deliver on the UK Industrial Strategy, local areas in England are developingmayoral combined authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships to develop Local Industrial StrategiesLocal Industrial Strategies that will be agreed in 2020. These are described as prioritising long-term opportunities and challenges to increase productivity and will help local areas to maximise the impact of their to prioritise long-term opportunities and challenges to increasing local productivity. This prioritisation will help local areas decide on their approach to maximising the long-term impact of the UKSPF once details of its operation and priorities are announced following the Spending Reviewbids to the Shared Prosperity Fund.
Links to the statement:
3.4 The latest position
There have been no major updates on the final approach to the Shared Prosperity Fund. A consultation had been proposed for late 2018 but this has not yet happened. However, comments and suggestions about the funds have been sent to the Treasury (see section 3.5) and the fund has been raised during Westminster debates. For example,
- In June there were questions asked about any discussions the Cabinet had on the Fund. The reply stated that there had been ‘meetings between officials and over 500 stakeholders at 25 official events across the country.’
The City Solicitor provided a summary of the following report in relation to the House of Commons Library briefing on the Status of “retained EU law” (copy available here) which had been updated and republished on 30th July, 2019:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
The purpose of this report is to provide Members with a summary of the House of Commons Library briefing on the Status of ‘retained EU law’ which was updated and republished on 30 July 2019.
That Members note the attached summary and appended briefing paper prepared by Graeme Cowie for the House of Commons Library and published on 30 July 2019.
The briefing is relatively complex and it is recommended that any specific queries in relation to individual EU law might be best raised at Committee and followed up by officers accordingly.
3.0 Main report
3.1 Key Issues
Repeal of the European Communities Act
The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (EUWA) repeals the European Communities Act 1972 (ECA) effective on ‘exit day’ (originally 29 March 2019, now 31 October 2019). In so doing, it removes the domestic constitutional basis for EU law having effect in the United Kingdom.
The basis in international law for EU law having effect on the UK will simultaneously have been extinguished by the operation of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
In the event of a Withdrawal Agreement being agreed to by the House of Commons, the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill may postpone this effect until the end of the transition period (see section on Transition below).
3.2 Retention of some EU law
However, this does not mean that EU law is of no consequence to the UK after that point. The EUWA also provides for the retention of most of that law, as it stands on exit day, by ‘converting’ or ‘transposing’ it into a freestanding body of domestic law.
The main objective of retaining EU law is to ensure that the UK statute book operates as closely as possible immediately following exit day as it did before then. Although domestic law cannot replicate identically the effect of EU law when the UK is no longer a Member State, this legislative scheme seeks to minimise those initial differences and, in doing so, to provide legal certainty.
3.3 How is EU law retained?
This new body of law is called ‘retained EU law’ and will replicate several different sources of EU law as domestic equivalents. It retains this law under three distinct provisions:
· Section 2 preserves EU-derived domestic legislation.
This (typically) concerns the regulations made (usually but not always under s2(2) ECA) or any primary legislation passed in order to implement one or more EU directives (though sometimes other sources of EU law)).
· Section 3 preserves direct EU legislation.
This is defined as all EU regulations, decisions or tertiary legislation and certain parts of the EEA agreement.
· Section 4 preserves any directly effective residual rights, ... view the full minutes text for item 10.