Post-Brexit Common Frameworks across the UK

Katy Hayward, Nicola McEwen*, Dan Wincott, Stephen Weatherill, Catherine Barnard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Other contribution


1.1 Evaluation of Common Frameworks is hampered by the lack of transparency in the Frameworks process. Of the 32 Frameworks announced by the government, only seven have been published, six of which appear to be provisional. The founding principles have been central to the production of Common Frameworks and should therefore frame their evaluation.

1.2 Frameworks are not policy documents but set out an approach to intergovernmental engagement in some policy domains that were hitherto the subject of EU regulations. It is expected that Framework governance will be carried out by officials as part of regular interactions between administrations. The hidden nature of that process could undermine parliamentary oversight, unless there is a clear link between the operation of Common Frameworks and inter-ministerial committees, and a stronger commitment to transparency and scrutiny of intergovernmental relations, as part of the Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) review.

1.3 The Frameworks process is generally viewed as a positive example of intergovernmental working. But it is overshadowed by the strains in the relationships between the administrations generated by the Brexit process and, in particular, the United Kingdom Internal Market Act (UKIMA), passed in December 2020 without the legislative consent of the devolved institutions.

1.4 It remains unclear how the concession secured by the Lords during the latter stages of the UKIM Bill, whereby the Secretary of State may by regulations make ‘Common Framework Agreements’ exempt from UKIMA’s Market Access principles, will be implemented. There appears to be no consensus on what constitutes a ‘Common Framework Agreement’, nor on the process that may lead to its exemption.

1.5 Common Frameworks all address policy domains that, in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, are matters of devolved competence. But many of the issues addressed by Frameworks interact with, and are shaped by, reserved matters, especially international agreements. It would be in keeping with the Memorandum of Understanding to acknowledge this interaction within Framework documents, and to ensure that agreed processes and ‘ways of working’ provided meaningful opportunities for the devolved administrations to represent their interests at each stage of the negotiation process.

1.6 The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland adds both to the complexity and the scale of divergence across the UK after Brexit. Political tensions over the Protocol have added to the lack of clarity about how it will be governed. Nine months after it came into effect, the biggest problem for the considerable intersections between policy areas covered by the Protocol and by Common Frameworks lies in the inadequate communication and information-sharing between Westminster/Whitehall and the Northern Ireland Assembly and departments.

1.7 The remainder of the submission will address the three broad themes of the Call for Evidence, embedding within these the specific questions posed by the Committee that we are competent to answer.
Original languageEnglish
TypeWritten Evidence
Media of outputUK Parliament website
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Post-Brexit Common Frameworks across the UK'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this