Mick Antoniw MS, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution
Most Common Frameworks have been in operation on a provisional basis since the end of 2020. These frameworks have provided a more equal basis for policy development among officials and have been working effectively. Of the 26 frameworks that apply to Wales, one framework has been through the full process of scrutiny, Ministerial sign-off and final publication. Twenty-three frameworks are in operation on that provisional basis. The remaining two frameworks are in development.
The delivery plan for the Common Frameworks was based on the expectation that they would be finalised and implemented before the start of the Northern Ireland Assembly pre-election period in late March. As this is no longer feasible for the majority of frameworks, scrutiny will now continue beyond March to ensure that legislatures have sufficient time to perform this role effectively.
Most of the frameworks have now been published for scrutiny by legislatures. These are the current versions of frameworks that are operational on a provisional basis while scrutiny takes place and recommendations are considered. The four governments will want to understand the views of all legislatures before finally deciding on changes to individual Frameworks as a result of any recommendations.
On a related matter, on 10 December 2021, the UK Government published a process, developed by all four governments, for considering and agreeing exclusions from the UK Internal Market Act in areas covered by a Common Framework. The Welsh Government’s position on the UK Internal Market Act has not changed and our legal challenge continues.
Separately, on 9 December the Minister for Levelling Up, The Union and Constitution, Neil O’Brien MP, issued a Written Ministerial Statement to the UK Parliament on the use of section 12 of the EU (Withdrawal) Act. This stated that, as a result of the progress that had been made to establish Common Frameworks in collaboration with the Devolved Governments, the UK Government intended to repeal section 12 (the “freezing power”) through the use of the enabling power set out in section 12(9) of the Act. We welcome this repeal and the fact that the freezing power has never been exercised.
Finally, the thirteenth and fourteenth reports relating to the use of section 12 of the Act, covering between them the period 26 June to 25 December 2021, were published on 11 December 2021 and 10 March 2022 respectively.