House of Lords puts pressure on UK Government to keep the door open on involvement in the EMA

The House of Lords is putting pressure on the United Kingdom (UK) government to help ensure that nothing jeopardises the country’s chances of remaining in the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The Lords made their point in an amendment stating Brexit legislation must not prevent the UK’s ongoing involvement in the EMA.

The house has proposed more than 100 amendments to the legislation document that has been put forward by the government, including one that would place limitations on other sections of the act. The amendment specifically seeks to stop the erection of barriers of participation in European Union (EU) agencies.

The amendment states that: “Nothing in this Act shall prevent the United Kingdom from—(a) replicating in domestic law any EU law made on or after exit day, or (b) continuing to participate in, or have a formal relationship with, the agencies of the European Union after exit day.” However, there is debate is to whether the amendment will gather enough support to pass.

It is likely that the government will oppose the amendment, however it does share the proposal’s central goal of an ongoing close relationship with the EMA. The problem lies in the fact as to whether this goal is compatible with the red lines the UK has set on other areas, such as its refusal to countenance staying in the single market. The EU has said little to encourage the UK that its goal is realistic.

There is a chance that a separate amendment voted for by the Lords could bring the UK closer to the EU’s position. The amendment called for the UK to stay in the European Economic Area (EEA). Other members of the EEA, such as Norway, are in EMA. The Commons will vote on the EEA amendment when it debates the bill.

To view the full debate transcript on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, please click here.