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European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – Second reading

by Politicker

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, also previously referred to as The Repeal Bill and The Great Repeal Bill, is a public bill presented to Parliament by the Government. The Bill was introduced to the House of Commons and given its First Reading on Thursday 13 July 2017. This stage is formal and takes place without any debate.

The Second Reading of the Bill is taking place on Thursday 7 and Monday 11 September 2017.

The Bill cuts off the source of European Union law in the UK by repealing the European Communities Act 1972 and removing the competence of European Union institutions to legislate for the UK. As such, the EUW Bill has been referred to as “the Great Repeal Bill”. The Bill provides for a complex mixture of constitutional change and legal continuity.A recent Commons Briefing paper, CBP-8079, was published on the 1st September 2017

A summary is available at

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8079

and the full report is available at

http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8079/CBP-8079.pdf (pdf)

David Davis made a statement to open the debate at the Second Reading of the Bill

I beg to move, that the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr Speaker, when I introduced the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill earlier this year, I said that Bill was just the beginning – the beginning of a process to ensure that the decision made by the people in June last year is honoured.

And today we begin the next step in the historic process of honouring that decision.

Put simply, this Bill is an essential step. Whilst it does not take us out of the EU – that is a matter for the Article 50 process – it does ensure that on the day we leave, businesses know where they stand, workers’ rights are upheld and consumers remain protected.

This Bill is vital to ensuring that as we leave, we do so in an orderly manner.

Details of his full speech are available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/david-davis-opening-statement-at-the-second-reading-of-the-repeal-bill

Debate on the Bill followed and continued on Monday 11 September.

Various amendments wwere put to a vote and the Bill finally successfully passed the Second Reading stage by 326 votes (for) to 290 (against) for the Bill to be committed to a Committee of the whole House. A total of 8 days have been allocated for the next Committee stage of the Bill.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, also known as the Repeal Bill, was introduced to the House of Commons and given its First Reading on Thursday 13 July 2017. This stage is formal and takes place without any debate. MPs will next consider the Bill at Second Reading. The date for second reading has not yet been announced.

This Bill is the first piece of Government legislation relating to Brexit since Article 50 was triggered in March.

The Bill repeals the 1972 European Communities Act which took the UK into the EU. It is designed to convert EU law into UK law and to ensure continuity of the rules and laws currently in place in the UK on the day after Brexit.

The Bill can be found at

https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2017-2019/0005/18005.pdf

Explanatory notes are provided at

https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2017-2019/0005/en/18005en.pdf

Factsheets providing further information about the Repeal Bill can be found on the Government’s web-site at

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/information-about-the-repeal-bill

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/information-about-the-withdrawal-bill

Details of the individual Factsheets are added here for convenience:

Guidance for businesses and organisations on the Repeal Bill at

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-for-businesses-on-the-repeal-bill

The Great Repeal Bill

The European Communities Act 1972 (ECA) accepted the supremacy of EU law in the UK. The principle of supremacy says that EU law prevails if it conflicts with national law.

The Great Repeal Bill is legislation which will be introduced in the UK to end the supremacy of EU law in the UK.

On the day that the UK officially leaves the EU the European Communities Act 1972 will be repealed and all EU laws currently in force will be converted into UK law.

A White Paper: Legislating for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union was presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, on 30 March 2017.

The paper outlines the approach the UK Government will take in order to replace EU laws by equivalent UK laws.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/604514/Great_repeal_bill_white_paper_print.pdf

In his statement to Parliament David Davis said

We have been clear that we want a smooth and orderly exit – and the Great Repeal Bill is integral to that approach. It will provide clarity and certainty for businesses, workers and consumers across the United Kingdom on the day we leave the EU.

The complete statement is available at

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/david-davis-commons-statement-on-the-great-repeal-bill-white-paper

Other References

European Communities Act 1972

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1972/68/contents

European Union Act 2011

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/12/contents

How the EU works: EU law and the UK

https://fullfact.org/europe/eu-law-and-uk/

EU Law Terminology:

Direct Effect

https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/industrial-relations-dictionary/direct-effect

Regulations
https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/industrial-relations-dictionary/regulations

Directives
https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/industrial-relations-dictionary/directives

Treaty Provisions
https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/industrial-relations-dictionary/treaty-provisions

Workers’ Rights in the EU

The EU has created a number of directives and regulations, relating to Workers’ Rights, that have been enshrined in European Law.

Every EU worker has certain minimum rights relating to:

  • health and safety at work: general rights and obligations, workplaces, work equipment, specific risks and vulnerable workers
  • equal opportunities for women and men: equal treatment at work, pregnancy, maternity leave, parental leave
  • protection against discrimination based on sex, race, religion, age, disability and sexual orientation
  • labour law: part-time work, fixed-term contracts, working hours, employment of young people, informing and consulting employees

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=706&langId=en&intPageId=205

For example, the EU’s Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC) requires EU countries to guarantee the following rights for all workers:

  • a limit to weekly working hours, which must not exceed 48 hours on average, including any overtime
  • a minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours in every 24
  • a rest break during working hours if the worker is on duty for longer than 6 hours
  • a minimum weekly rest period of 24 uninterrupted hours for each 7-day period, in addition to the 11 hours’ daily rest
  • paid annual leave of at least 4 weeks per year
  • extra protection for night workers
    • average working hours must not exceed 8 hours per 24-hour period,
    • night workers must not perform heavy or dangerous work for longer than 8 hours in any 24-hour period,
    • night workers have the right to free health assessments and, under certain circumstances, to transfer to day work.

There are separate directives on working hours for certain workers in specific transport sectors.

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=706&langId=en&intPageId=206

Other examples of Workers’ Rights include

  • Equal treatment for part-time workers
  • Rights for new mums
  • 18 weeks of parental leave
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Health and safety
  • Protection if your company is bought out
  • Protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, sexuality, gender reassignment status, belief, and age.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC)

https://www.tuc.org.uk

have produced a document exploring UK employment rights and the EU

UK employment rights and the EU – Assessment of the impact of membership of the European
Union on employment rights in the UK

which is available at

https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/UK%20employment%20rights%20and%20the%20EU.pdf

UK opt-outs from EU legislation

The UK has negotiated a number of exceptions (called opt-outs) from parts of EU legislation since it joined the EEC in the 1970’s.

Where the UK has negotiated such exceptions, the UK is not bound by EU rules in these areas, or has other special arrangements.

Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)

The UK has special status within the Economic and Monetary Union and retains control over its own economic and monetary policy:

  • the UK is under no obligation to join the euro and will not join the euro;
  • the UK does not participate in the Banking Union, and therefore retains responsibility for the supervision of UK banks;
  • the UK cannot be penalised under EU rules, unlike other Member States who are part of the Economic and Monetary Union;

The UK’s voting rights in the European Council are suspended for issues relating to eurozone matters.

EU Budget rebate

The UK benefits from a reduction in the amount it pays into the EU budget;

Schengen Area

The UK is not a member of the Schengen border-free area, retaining control overs its own borders. (Protocol 19)

As a consequence, it is necessary to have your passport checked when entering the UK and possibly when entering other EU countries.

Justice and Home Affairs

The UK can choose whether or not to participate in new EU measures in the Justice and Home Affairs field. This means that the UK does not automatically take part in measures but can opt in to those that it considers to be in the national interest. (Protocol 21)

Charter of Fundamental Human Rights

The UK obtained a clarifying protocol, Protocol 30, which clarifies that the Charter does not extend the ability of the European Court of Justice to find UK law inconsistent with the Charter.

This exemption was obtained because of fears the Charter would infringe on UK labour law.

References:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/jha-opt-in-and-schengen-opt-out-protocols

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opt-outs_in_the_European_Union#Economic_and_Monetary_Union_.E2.80.93_Denmark_and_the_United_Kingdom

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