The EEA EFTA separation agreement agreed with Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein protects citizens’ rights and includes other separation provisions. These provisions wind down certain arrangements that the UK has with the EEA EFTA states by virtue of their participation in the single market and other EU-led initiatives. The agreement also establishes a Joint Committee whose primary role is to supervise and facilitate the implementation and application of the agreement, with the power to make decisions. The Joint Committee has a rotating chair, which, when held by the UK, will be chaired by a Minister from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, but may be delegated to officials.
The first meeting of the Joint Committee took place on 18 December 2020. The meeting was held by remote means, with the UK holding the rotating chair. All parties reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring the correct and timely implementation of the citizens’ rights part of the agreement, which protects the rights of EEA EFTA nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EEA EFTA states and the agreement as a whole.
Two decisions were adopted by the Joint Committee . The first decision adopted was the rules of procedure for the Joint Committee, and the second was on “triangulation” under article 32 of the agreement. The triangulation provisions ensure that social security co-ordination rights between the UK, the EU and the EEA EFTA states continue for those in scope of the EEA EFTA separation agreement and the withdrawal agreement. Corresponding agreements between the EU and the UK, and the EU and the EEA EFTA states were in place by the end of the transition period, thus the Joint Committee was able to set the date from which the triangulation provisions would apply as 1 January 2021. Copies of each of these decisions have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Joint Committee will meet at least annually, with Iceland holding the next rotating chair. The next meeting is expected to take place later in 2021.