A major inquiry into the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) aims to recommend ‘practical’ solutions to post-Brexit challenges around trade, security and defence. The investigation, by the Conservative European Forum (CEF), promises to be the most comprehensive probe into the functioning of the TCA.
Three years after the Trade and Cooperation Agreement was agreed – and with increasing evidence available - it is widely acknowledged that the current UK-EU partnership requires improvement. Trade barriers can be lowered, security and defence cooperation can be enhanced and a more favourable deal for services can be achieved. This year, the Conservative European Forum will conduct a comprehensive inquiry to evaluate the current functioning of the TCA.
By gathering evidence and holding hearings with relevant organisations and individuals, we will document the problems, economic costs and missed opportunities that have arisen because of the existing relationship. The inquiry will examine changes to drive economic growth and promote political security and stability.
Following the inquiry, scheduled to run from March - November 2023, CEF will publish a detailed report to government outlining our findings and key recommendations. The report's objective is to provide enterprise-led, actionable and practical solutions to address the concerns faced by many businesses and individuals who have been negatively affected by the current arrangements. The report will identify the greatest opportunities and build consensus and cooperation to reform and reduce barriers that currently exist.
We wish to build a detailed case that moves beyond simple headlines and sparks debate within the Conservative party and the broader political landscape. This is not a debate about Brexit, it is about strengthening UK-EU relations – for our economy and security - in areas of mutual interest.
A clause contained in the TCA mandates both parties to jointly review the implementation of the Agreement and any related matters every five years. The first review, scheduled for 2025/26, presents an excellent opportunity to move beyond theoretical discussions and focus on the practical challenges that the UK faces.
We believe that UK PLC, economic growth, national security, and individual freedom require a cooperative and consistent framework with our neighbours. Our timeline is to ensure that this case is clear ahead of the next General Election and to build debate for the TCA review in 2025/26.
Given the multi-national nature of the review, CEF is well-positioned to work closely with our centre-right allies in continental Europe to promote our recommendations. We will promote our recommendations within the Parliamentary Partnership Assembly, an interparliamentary body comprising UK and European parliamentarians that CEF campaigned to establish and helped shape, which has the power to make recommendations to the Partnership Council.