The government published a white paper on Brexit legislation in March 2017. The paper covered 12 key themes, including:
- Trade: the UK is to come out of the single market and seek a new arrangement and free trade agreement with the EU.
- Immigration: a new system to control EU migration will be introduced.
- Expats: the government wants to secure an agreement with European countries on the rights of EU nationals in the UK and Britons living in Europe.
- Devolution: giving more powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as decision-makers.
The government also included details of its Great Repeal Bill, designed to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act and give Parliament the power to adopt parts of EU legislation into UK law.
Download the white paper.
Responses from EDF Associates
Liberty, March 2017
“This white paper has gaping holes where our rights should be. Where’s the guarantee to protect our EU rights so we don’t end up worse off than our neighbours across the Channel? Where’s the guarantee of proper democratic scrutiny?” – Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty
Responses from EDF Observers
EHRC, March 2017
“The government should use this golden opportunity to strengthen our own laws as we leave EU laws behind, including by introducing a constitutional right to equality that will make post-Brexit Britain fairer and more united.” – Chair David Isaac
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland responded in July 2016 with recommendations for the Northern Ireland government on their Programme for Government Framework. Their full response is available along with a key point briefing.
The Commission welcomes the emphasis to focus on the impact on people rather than solely on the actions taken within Government, the emphasis on working across Government and on full engagement and co-design with stakeholders.
Their recommendations include:
- We recommend that the PfG makes explicit that all relevant PfG measures (and as such all relevant indicators and all outcomes) will be tracked, not only in aggregate, but also for each of the Section 75 grounds.
Why: While the Framework includes some clear references to equality and good relations, there is a need to ensure mainstreaming of equality across the Framework as a whole.
- We recommend that the Executive ensures that PfG measures are sufficient to track progress fundamental to achieving stated outcomes.
Why: In the Framework, ‘measures’ can be much more narrowly defined than their parent ‘indicator’ (or ‘outcome’). For example, the ‘shared space’ indicator is measured only in relation to certain facilities (eg leisure centres). The PfG Framework does not therefore contain any measures on shared space more generally, or in employment, education or housing etc.
- We recommend that the Department review the evidence base already gathered for the PfG through the lens of Section 75. This evidence should be set out and inform the assessment of impacts via screening and/or EQIA documentation.
Why: The work and functions of the the Executive Office, including with other Departments and Councils to deliver the PfG, are subject to the statutory equality and good relations duties – including the application of Equality Scheme commitments.
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has set out the five priority actions that it considers the Northern Ireland Executive needs to take to promote racial equality in Northern Ireland. They will be making these recommendations to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
1. develop a co-ordinated cross departmental action plan in Northern Ireland to advance racial equality (incorporating clear targets, actions & timescales)
2. set out a detailed timetable for the proposed review of the racial equality and fair employment legislation
3. set out specific timeframes for consultation on, and implementation of, comprehensive ethnic monitoring to improve public policy and service delivery in NI
4. take action to promote respect; tackle racism and discrimination; and address racist hate crime
5. set out the actions to be taken to address key inequalities in education, health, housing, employment and social protection and promotes integration (particularly for marginalised groups such as Travellers and Roma, asylum seekers and refugees
They have produced a report to the list of themes and a key point briefing.
In May 2016, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland set out its recommendations in relation to the next Programme for Government (PfG) and Budget of the Northern Ireland Executive.
The Commission stresses:
Equality of opportunity and good relations must be central to all public policy development and implementation, no less so at a time of reduced public spending.
An independent report by Doughty Street Chambers and KRW Law, commissioned by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group of the European Parliament, looks into the possible effects of the repeal of the Human Rights Act, with a particular focus on Northern Ireland.
It was published in February 2016.
The 2015 Annual Statement. Human Rights in Northern Ireland was published by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in December 2015.
The annual statement highlights the importance and prevalence of economic and social rights as well as the continuing lack of strategies for racial equality, sexual orientation, childcare, stopping domestic and sexual violence and to tackle poverty.
The Commission’s annual statement uses a traffic light system to classify the actions taken by or required the UK Government, NI Executive or relevant public authorities in response to the [human rights] issue.
In December 2015, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland published Fair Employment Monitoring Report No.25. An Overview of High Level Trends and Aggregated Monitoring Returns 2014.
This year’s monitoring report shows that people from the Protestant community, at 52.6%, continue to make up the majority of the monitored workforce. The proportion of the workforce comprising people from the Roman Catholic community has continued to increase annually by 0.4% and now stands at 47.4%. This mirrors closely estimates of the composition of those available for work in Northern Ireland.
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) is keen to hear views on the priorities suggested in its draft Corporate Plan 2016-2019. The consultation closed on 8 March 2016.
In October 2014, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland published an assessment of the experiences of people in education across all the equality grounds in Northern Ireland. The draft statement highlights areas where there are educational challenges and how these impact on children.
The paper Good Relations in Northern Ireland: towards a definition in law covers issues as regards to the evolution of the community relations paradigm, the interpretation and application of good relations in Northern Ireland, the relationship between good relations and human rights, equality and anti-racism goals and then discusses the definition of good relations that currently stands in GB, ‘Tackling prejudice and promoting understanding.’
It was published by the Equality Coalition in October 2014.