Withdrawal Agreement Bill (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st January (next Friday)

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill is now enacted as the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 (the UK 2020 Act). It amends the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, and will be added to the Brexit Law List, in the EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists of subscribers systems.

The Bill was enacted unaltered. I already Blog posted about the Bill contents before Christmas. The Bill Explanatory Notes are here.

In brief :

(1) The EU-UK Withdrawal Treaty is now ratified on the UK side.

(2) The EU-UK Withdrawal Treaty is here (ratification is proceeding on the EU side).

(3) The UK must set up an Independent Monitoring Authority to oversee the citizen rights elements of the Withdrawal Treaty.

(4) Both sides must set up the Joint Committee, and its sub-committees, to manage implementation of the Withdrawal Treaty.

(5) A transition period will commence from 1st February and last until 31st December 2020 (the UK 2020 Act terms this an Implementation Period).

(6) The Withdrawal Treaty provides for a single extension of the transition period for up to one or two years, the final date for application for this is end June.

The UK 2020 Act prevents the application. So for an application to be made, a further Act would need to be enacted on this point.

(7) The Northern Ireland/Ireland Protocol to the Withdrawal Treaty commences at the end of the transition period. I blog posted already about this Protocol. The UK 2020 Act stipulates the Protocol will be enacted by Regulations made under the UK 2020 Act.

(8) During the transition period, nothing substantive changes for business or citizens, and the Brexit Law statutory instrument changes to UK domestic law are delayed until 1st Jan 2021.

Hence, subscribers existing EHS Legislation & Registers are relabelled Brexit Transition.

(9) From 1st Feb, the UK is free to make trade deals, these trade deals could alter domestic law.

(10) From 1st Jan 2021, the Brexit Law statutory instrument changes to UK domestic law have legal effect. These freeze UK domestic law implementation of EU law as at 31st Dec 2020. In practice, however, the vast bulk of the UK Brexit Law was enacted in March/April 2019, and so unless reissued, it reflects EU law at that date.

Some EU law will need implementing in 2020.

I wrote separate Blog posts about EU Law in UK 2020 and EU Law in UK 2021.

During 2020, please expect to see further Blog posts on this topic.

EU Law in UK 2021 (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st January (end of this month)

Implementation period completion day is 31st December (this is the end of the transition period)

The Chancellor speaking to the Financial Times, confirms there will be no dynamic alignment with EU Law after 2020.

I am not yet clear which laws will diverge, but please note the Brexit laws allow divergence, for example the Brexit Agriculture Bill provides for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to create their own marketing standards (Scotland will need to enact its own Brexit Agriculture Bill).

The EU Exit regulations (statutory instruments) we (Cardinal Environment) are consolidating into domestic law only deal with the pre-Brexit period to end Dec 2020.

It is the FT front page today (Saturday 18th January) and the lead on BBC online.

EU Law per se will not apply anyway. Note, there may be some long tail implementation left over from pre-Brexit that will be implemented.

We (Cardinal Environment) are already consolidating the EU Exit regulations into domestic law, and creating the Retained EU Law (EU Regulations, not Directives, that are adopted). Progress in this project can be seen by clicking the Brexit Consolidated Law List on the top right hand side of EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists homepages (both ENV and OHS).

We are working to the deadline of 31st December 2020 for completion of this project.

In addition, EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists will see the home page choice of ENV or OHS have additional Post-Brexit choices, and the existing links relabelled Pre-Brexit.

The Post-Brexit links will direct to shadow Registers & Checklists that will run from the end of Q1 to hit the end Dec 2020 deadline, for switch over to Post-Brexit.

Post-Brexit shadow Registers & Checklists running in 2020 will have Brexit Consolidated Law loaded (accessibility will stay from the main Brexit Consolidated Law list), and will display a changed Register layout.

Post-Brexit EHS Legislation Registers layout – EU Law will be moved from the top to below Guidance. We will still supply up to date EU Law to UK customers, but this is where it will be found. Retained EU Law will be displayed at the top of the Register.

Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st January 2020

The updated Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) is now published – here.

The Explanatory Notes for the updated WAB are here.

Two clauses giving a role for Parliament, including relating to negotiating objectives for the next phase, are removed, these were Clauses 30 and 31.

Clause 34 and Schedule 4 on workers’ rights are also gone. Explanatory notes to the Queen’s Speech identify the government will bring forward an Employment Bill in this legislative period 2019-2020 (this Blog does not focus on employment law, save for health and safety aspects).

Among the 5 new clauses:

Clause 30 on Withdrawal Treaty Joint Committee dispute resolution reporting

Clause 33 banning Ministers from agreeing to an extension to the transition period (termed implementation period in the bill)

Clause 35 banning the use of written procedure in the Withdrawal Treaty Joint Committee

Clause 36 repealing spent enactments

Re: the briefed stories about letting lower courts depart from CJEU judgments, rather than just the Supreme Court and High Court of Justiciary – this seems to be catered for by a new subsection in clause 26(1) that gives Ministers a power to decide when lower courts can do this.

Another change is in clause 20. In October the WAB had what’s called a standing service provision, which authorises expenditure to the EU for sums owed under the WA treaty. It was time limited last time (to March 2021) but a Minister could extend it. No more can it be extended.

Last time the Bill only had provisions about House of Commons scrutiny of developments in EU law during the transition period (the European Scrutiny Committee could force debates in the Commons). It seems there is now the same role in the Lords for its EU Committee in clause 29. During the transition period, the Bill incorporates developments in EU law into UK Law and stays (delays) the effect of Brexit Law changing the UK statute base so it can stand alone.

It also seems like Schedule 2 has been amended a bit. It now looks like the Independent Monitoring Authority can delegate decisions about starting inquiries and legal proceedings (where it couldn’t before) and that its functions can be transferred more easily than before.

There may be other changes that are identified or that are accepted as the Bill is scrutinised.

The Second Reading is scheduled for tomorrow, which will be easily carried. The Bill will then go forward for scrutiny in the usual fashion once Parliament returns from its holidays.

Parliament will take its Christmas holidays at the end of tomorrow, to return again on 6th January.

The WAB will amend the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018. In addition to bringing in the transition period to 31st December 2020 (known as the Implementation Period completion day) the fact of enactment of the WAB, will delay the deadline for application to the EU Settled Status Scheme to June 2021.

If there are further substantive changes to the WAB, I will post again, otherwise not.

Queens Speech (UK)

Exit day is 31st January 2020 – DExEU government department will close on that day

Of relevance (for this Blog) in the Queen’s Speech today are :

(1) the Environment Bill – this will be brought back with alterations

(2) a new Fire safety and Building safety bill or bills

(3) the withdrawal agreement bill and associated Brexit bills

Please look out for further Blog posts when the bill text is published.

Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st January 2020.

Implementation Period (IP) completion day is 31st December 2020 (this is the date of the end of the Withdrawal Treaty Transition Period).

The Queen’s Speech is tomorrow (Thursday), and I will post specifically on that, once the bills for the new legislative period are identified. Some bills will be of relevance, not least the Environment Bill.

The UK government has signalled it will bring back the WAB in an updated form on Friday, so that it can be enacted by the Exit day.

The EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – the WAB – amends the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to give effect to the UK-EU Withdrawal Treaty (Oct 2019 revision). It sets out provisions for an orderly exit, and includes a Transition Period – identified as an Implementation Period (IP) in UK Legislation.

The updated text is not yet published. I will post again on the WAB when the updated text is available.

The UK government has signalled it will insert provision for the Lower Courts to overturn decisions of the European Courts. This will affect the definition of waste, among other matters.

There may be other WAB updates of relevance also. Once I see the updated WAB text, I will include a list of the relevant changes in the Blog post.

Please look out for further Blog posts on the WAB.

Withdrawal Agreement Bill (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st October – Thursday week (this date is in a Statutory Instrument)

Yesterday the government published the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – here.

There are additional documents also published, including Explanatory Notes – here.

The Bill (known as the WAB) is 115 pages, with 40 clauses and 6 schedules. It’s purpose is to give effect in domestic law to the Withdrawal Agreement that was agreed between the EU and the UK on 17th October, and to ratify that Withdrawal Agreement.

– The Bill amends the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (a core existing Brexit Law) to ensure it reflects the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. Re Brexit Law, the Bill saves the Brexit Law for the end of the transition period (in the Bill this is the IP (Implementation Period) completion day).

– The Bill creates powers to make secondary legislation (Statutory Instruments), where appropriate, to enable the Withdrawal Agreement to be implemented domestically.

– The Bill includes amendments to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 in relation to rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity protections contained in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 1998.

– The Bill includes provision relating to facilitating access for Northern Ireland goods to the market in Great Britain, as well as further provision to ensure no alteration to the arrangements for North South cooperation can occur as a result of this Bill.

The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the exit terms, covering the transition period, the monies to be paid to the EU, citizen rights, the Ireland-Northern Ireland specific arrangements, and other matters.

The Bill gives effect to these exit terms.

The timetabling of UK Parliament debate on this Bill will be voted on today.

The government has already signaled that all of this week will be taken up with this Bill, leaving the further debate on the Queen’s Speech and the Environment Bill Second Reading for later dates (unspecified).

Please look out for further Blog posts on this matter.

What’s happening re Brexit (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st October (this date is set out in a Statutory Instrument)

EU-UK Agreement is reached on the Johnson Exit terms (the Withdrawal Agreement agreed last week), but this Agreement must be ratified by both the UK and the EU Parliaments (if you remember ratification of the earlier agreed May Exit terms failed at the UK Parliament step, and the Exit day was extended).

Yesterday, the UK Parliament voted to require completion of the full legislative elements of ratification (passage of an unpublished Withdrawal Agreement Bill) first. Plus (in fulfilment of the EU (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 – the Benn Act), the UK applied for the Exit day to be moved to 31st January 2020.

Tomorrow, it may be the Johnson Exit terms will return for UK Parliament vote, but it’s more likely ratification will move straight to the legislative element – the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

We don’t know exactly what will be in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB), because it is not published, but many, possibly hundreds, of amendments are likely, at least for debate.

If the WAB is enacted by 31st October, the UK exits with the Johnson Exit terms (see the posts of last week on the (Johnson) revised Ireland-Northern Ireland Protocol, and the (Johnson) revised Political Declaration).

If the WAB is not enacted by 31st October, the Exit day is moved to the 31st January 2020 (if the EU has granted the application), or a different date (if the EU sets a different date and the UK Parliament agrees it).

The UK government has also triggered its Operation Yellowhammer no deal contingency plan.

Please look out for further Blog posts on the matter.

[next week also has the votes scheduled on the Queen’s Speech, and the Environment Bill Second Reading]