2 Mar 2020

Dr Damian Raess questioned on the level playing field in international trade and labor standards

The House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee held an evidence session on Thursday 27 February, with regards to questions around the level playing field in UK-EU trade negotiations.

Dr Damian Raess, SNSF Assistant Professor in Political Science at the WTI, gave evidence alongside Dr Lorand Bartels, Senior Counsel at Linklaters and Reader in International Law, University of Cambridge, Dr Holger Hestermeyer, Shell Reader in International Dispute Resolution, King’s College London, and Ms Nicola Smith, Joint Head of Equality and Strategy, Trades Union Congress.

The level playing field is emerging as a critical point in UK-EU trade negotiations. The session explores the nature and scope of level playing field provisions in EU trade agreements in particular in the areas of labor standards and state subsidies and key differences with the Commission’s approach to UK-EU negotiations.

The session covered questions such as:

  • What is the rationale for the EU potentially using the level playing field as a “deal breaker” in negotiations with the UK? 
  • How do provisions on labor standards and subsidies in existing EU trade agreements compare to the Commission’s proposed approach to negotiations with the UK?
  • How might social and labor protection clauses operate in practice? To what extent might they limit the UK’s ability to set its own social and labor legislation after the end of the transition period?
  • What might be the benefits and drawbacks for the UK of retaining the ability to depart from EU-derived social and labor standards?
  • The UK and EU’s emerging negotiating positions on the level playing field appear to be at odds with each other. How can a balanced outcome be achieved?

Listen to the audio recording of the evidence session:


For more information on the evidence session: