Karin Smyth MPs Pigeon Column :: December 2022

Being a member of the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly (PPA) is an honour. It’s part of our post-Brexit institutional framework and an important forum for Parliamentarians to exchange views on the implementation and operation of our post-Brexit agreements. We have to maintain good dialogue with our closest neighbours and trading partners to promote security and prosperity across Europe. On 7 and 8 November, we hosted our European partners in Westminster for our first discussion in the UK. We heard from the UK Minister for Europe, Leo Doherty MP, and Maros Sefcovcic, from the European Commission, as well as Lord Hill, former European Commissioner and Joao Vale de Almeida, the EU Ambassador to the UK.
The main items of discussion were the Northern Ireland Protocol, particularly the concerns that exist among many of us on the Protocol Bill currently in Parliament. Peace and stability must guide us in determining the exact relationships between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland, and the UK and the EU.

We also discussed Russia’s war on Ukraine and the threats to our security that they have highlighted around cyber and energy security. It is right that the EU and the UK continue to stand strong against Russia’s aggression and with the people of Ukraine. We must continue to support Ukraine with equipment and financial support and continue to sanction Russia’s actions. We must also look to diversify our energy supplies urgently to protect both the environment and to eliminate the funds fuelling Russia’s war chest.

Other items of discussion included climate change and the rights of citizens following Brexit, including for touring artists and scientific cooperation.

All of these issues are important to us in Bristol South. We’ve spent too much time highlighting differences and most of us want to turn the page and form a new relationship. The issue of the NI Protocol, designed to resolve the problem of a hard border on the island of Ireland remains a problem that requires urgent resolution.

For the safety, security and prosperity of Bristol South we need to begin again. Harnessing these new institutions, such as the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly, will drive forward economic growth and a stronger UK on the global stage. I will continue to speak up for Bristol via these platforms so we are at the heart of the change that is to come.