The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) provisionally entered into force on 1st January 2021. Until then, the European Economic and Social Committee's body in charge of monitoring the negotiation process with the United Kingdom (UK) and preparing a post-Brexit civil society dialogue with UK counterparts was the Brexit Follow-up Group. Committed to its monitoring role and acting as a bridge with UK civil society, the EESC decided to set up the EU-UK Follow-up Committee to continue the work of the Brexit Follow-Group, particularly by fostering relations with UK civil society.
While the conclusion of the TCA avoided a no-deal scenario, the EU–UK relations remain challenging. Whatever happens, EU civil society plays and will continue to play an important role in (re)building bridges between the EU and UK.
The special nature of the relationship and the wide range of issues under this Committee's remit call for a prioritisation exercise, but the overarching objectives are rather straightforward:
- building and fostering strong relations with key actors of the EU-UK relations, most importantly re-building bridges with UK civil society organisations, using outreach and strong communication;
- liaising with the main EU institutions (European Commission, European Parliament, Council) as well as with UK institutional actors (UK Mission in Brussels, UK Houses of Parliament, Devolved Administrations);
- monitoring the implementation of the most relevant EU-UK agreements, notably the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland;
- monitoring other agreements and potential areas of cooperation;
- monitoring any element of the new EU-UK relationship with particular importance for civil society;
- centralizing EESC feedback on relevant EU-UK issues.