One aspect of the WA/TCA pairing that will generally never get much attention is the meeting roster.
Both treaties provide not only for a coordinating body – the Joint Committee (WA) and the Partnership Council (TCA) – but also a raft of more specialised bodies, roughly one for each section of each treaty.
These bodies are intended to provide a space for discussion between the parties, and a ratification of jointly-agreed decisions. The specialised bodies deal with their particular reams, then it goes up to the central body for approval.
In most part, the work of all of these is dull. If there are no major issues, then they essentially operate to provide regular confirmations of this; if there are major issues, then the more senior officials and politicians get stuck in and try to find solutions in an ad-hoc manner.
But this doesn’t mean they’re not important. On the contrary, their documentation provides as good a public paper trail as is available to most interested parties, while the simple rhythm of their meeting tells you something about their value.
In the two graphics below, you can already see some of this.
The WA committees have had longer to bed in, but the centrality of the Northern Ireland Protocol is clear, with Citizens’ Rights rather less behind than might have been evident: with the end of the UK’s window for registering for Settled Status, that Specialised Committee is likely to gain further in prominence.
By contrast, the TCA bodies have been much slower to get moving, in part because of the delay to full ratification until May, in part because the urgent issues have been with the WA and in part because everyone’s still working through a lot of what the TCA actually means in practice. Note that one of the WA committees didn’t first meet until 9 months into that treaty’s entry into force.
I’ll be updating these graphics regularly, with PDF versions that let you click through to Commission reports on each meeting uploaded to the bit.ly links below.