Charities are to be consulted by the UK government and European Union member states on the implementation of the Brexit Deal, which was signed at the end of December.
This will be through the setting up of a Civil Society Forum, which will meet at least once a year and involve charity sector groups from across the EU.
Early details of the Forum have been laid out in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
This Brexit Agreement specifies that the EU and UK will “consult civil society on the implementation of this Agreement and any supplementing agreement, in particular through interaction with the domestic advisory groups and the Civil Society Forum”.
The forum should meet at least annually “unless otherwise agreed” by the EU and UK. It can also meet “by virtual means”.
The document adds that the UK and EU need to “promote a balanced representation, including non-governmental organisations, business and employers ́ organisations and trade unions, active in economic, sustainable development, social, human rights, environmental and other matters”.
Charity sector reaction
The creation of the forum has been welcomed by Association of Charitable Foundations director of external affairs Richard Hebditch.
3. TCA has complex institutional framework on this. This includes a welcome Civil Society Forum, which hopefully can be used to open up any EU/UK political & official discussions on divergence to wider stakeholders. UK & EU also promise to consult on implementation of TCA.— Richard Hebditch (@RichardHebditch) January 4, 2021
But while Directory of Social Change director of policy and research Jay Kennedy has tentatively labelled the Forum “a good idea” he has concerns over the yet to emerge details of its setting up, including who takes part and how it is managed.
From the EU/UK trade deal - a civil society forum may be a good idea, but raises more questions than answers: who runs it, how is membership determined, how is it governed, and who PAYS for the secretariat? https://t.co/ns8xhqoLUP pic.twitter.com/bNSbpzwi7B— Jay Kennedy (@JKENNEDYDSC) January 4, 2021