Wednesday 3 March 2021
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
British Council Annual Report and Accounts 2019-20
Copies of the British Council’s annual report and accounts for the 2019-20 financial year have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The British Council builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. As the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, it makes a significant contribution to projecting British values overseas and generating soft power for the UK in return. In doing so it makes a lasting difference to the UK’s security, prosperity and influence.
The British Council is the world’s leading cultural relations organisation, with a reach in 2019-20 of 983 million people. This included 76 million direct interactions, through a presence in over 100 countries.
The Council received £187 million grant-in-aid, including £161 million ODA, from the FCO in 2019-20.
The report can also be found at the British Council’s website: www.britishcouncil.org.
EEA EFTA Separation Agreement Joint Committee Meeting, 18 December 2020
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.
Northern Ireland Protocol: Implementation
As part of the pragmatic and proportionate implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol, the Government are taking several temporary operational steps to avoid disruptive cliff edges as engagement with the EU continues through the Joint Committee. These recognise that appropriate time must be provided for businesses to implement new requirements, and support the effective flow of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
For supermarkets and their suppliers, as part of the operational plan the UK committed to at the UK-EU Joint Committee on 24 February, the current scheme for temporary agrifood movements to Northern Ireland (STAMNI) will continue until 1 October. Certification requirements will then be introduced in phases alongside the roll-out of the digital assistance scheme.
In addition, further guidance will be provided later this week on parcel movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland to provide necessary additional time for traders beyond 1 April. Guidance will also be set out to help address practical problems on soil attached to the movement of plants, seeds, bulbs, vegetables and agricultural machinery. And the Government will write to the Northern Ireland Executive to confirm that flexibilities within the Official Controls Regulation 2017/625 are such that no charging regime is required for agrifood goods.