The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee has cleared from scrutiny the EU’s decision to adopt a new sanctions regime targeting the use and proliferation of chemical weapons (see previous blog). The Committee said:
- After 29 March 2019, the UK will cease to be bound by the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of which this new chemical weapons sanctions regime forms part;
- The UK will lose its current veto over most new EU foreign policy measures and its current significant degree of influence over the general direction of the CFSP;
- The EU would benefit from a close relationship with the UK in the field of foreign policy, especially in the field of sanctions (see the House of Lords EU Committee Report stating that the UK “currently plays a leading role in developing EU sanctions policy, is most active in proposing individuals and entities to be listed, and is home to the largest international financial centre of the bloc”);
- In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, day-to-day foreign policy cooperation – coordinated, for example, via the weekly meeting of the EU’s Political & Security Committee – would be severely disrupted from March 2019;
- If the UK imposes sanctions under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 which the EU-27 does not, that is likely to reduce their overall effectiveness (the Lords’ Report notes that “while informal engagement with the EU on sanctions… can be very valuable, it is no substitute for the influence that can be exercised through formal inclusion in EU meetings”); and
- The Committee will continue to monitor the discussions on the UK’s future relationship with the EU closely, as well as consider any proposals for listings under the new chemical weapons sanctions framework, or for parallel sanctions regimes for human rights abuses or cyber-attacks.