EU-UK FTA Political Declaration (revised) (UK Brexit)

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

The Political Declaration accompanies the Withdrawal Agreement, it is revised – here.

This document sets out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom as agreed at negotiators’ level on 17 October 2019, replacing the one published in OJ C 66I of 19.2.2019.

It is 27 pages, and signals – (some of the elements – please read the entire document)

– the EU and the United Kingdom will work together to safeguard the rules- based international order, the rule of law and promotion of democracy, and high standards of free and fair trade and workers’ rights, consumer and environmental protection, and cooperation against internal and external threats to their values and interests.

– the Parties agree to develop an ambitious, wide-ranging and balanced economic partnership. This partnership will be comprehensive, encompassing a Free Trade Agreement, as well as wider sectoral cooperation where it is in the mutual interest of both Parties. It will be underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition, as set out in Section XIV of this Part. It should facilitate trade and investment between the Parties to the extent possible, while respecting the integrity of the Union’s Single Market and the Customs Union as well as the United Kingdom’s internal market, and recognising the development of an independent trade policy by the United Kingdom.

– the Parties will retain their autonomy and the ability to regulate economic activity according to the levels of protection each deems appropriate in order to achieve legitimate public policy objectives such as public health, animal health and welfare, social services, public education, safety, the environment including climate change, public morals, social or consumer protection, privacy and data protection, and promotion and protection of cultural diversity. The economic partnership will recognise that sustainable development is an overarching objective of the Parties. The economic partnership will also provide for appropriate general exceptions, including in relation to security.

Direction of Travel (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st October 2019 (this date is set out in a Statutory Instrument)

Today, the UK state issued its text proposal for a new Ireland Protocol (“backstop” in common parlance) to the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement.

Only the letter and explanatory note are published – here.

The letter shows the direction of travel –

Our proposed compromise removes the so-called “backstop” in the previous Withdrawal Agreement. I have explained the difficulties with this elsewhere, including the fact that it has been rejected three times by the UK Parliament. Equally importantly in this context, the backstop acted as a bridge to a proposed future relationship with the EU in which the UK would be closely integrated with EU customs arrangements and would align with EU law in many areas. That proposed future relationship is not the goal of the current UK Government. The Government intends that the future relationship should be based on a Free Trade Agreement in which the UK takes control of its own regulatory affairs and trade policy. In these circumstances the proposed “backstop” is a bridge to nowhere, and a new way forward must be found.

[my emphasis]

The new proposal would create a complicated situation for traders in Northern Ireland, and for trade into Northern Ireland, plus a consent mechanism necessitating initial and repeated four-yearly approval by Stormont (that is not currently meeting).

The next step is for all parties to review the circulated (but unpublished) detailed text, and for the EU on behalf of the Member States, to indicate if the proposal has merit enough to enter into detailed discussion.

Please look out for further Blog posts.

NB – re Eco-design and Right to Repair – the EU agreed it’s new rules today, it seems in time for the 31st October Exit day – I updated the Blog post issued recently. This matter will be in the October Email Alert to subscribers.

UK Parliament Votes on Exit Date (UK Brexit)

UPDATE (5) : 22nd March 2019 – the EU has agreed an extension. I will issue a new blog post next week after the package is voted on again.

UPDATE (4) : 19th March 2019 – the package will not be voted on until next week (the final week) before the exit date (29th March).

UPDATE (3) : 18th March 2019 – the Speaker of the House of Commons rules the package cannot come back for a third vote (MV3) unless it is substantially altered.

UPDATE (2) : the PM statement dated today 15th March (does not add) – here.

UPDATE : The PM’s spokesperson says that the end date of the transition period will *not* change as a result of an Article 50 extension i.e the extra days the UK spends as an EU member state will eat into the transition period.

I said I would post to update on the date of the exit date, after the votes today.

In UK and EU Law the exit date is 29th March 2019.

Today, the UK Parliament agreed the UK government proposal that it would ask the EU for a delay in the exit date.

The Government proposal is to bring back for a further vote of UK MPs, the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration package that was rejected (a second time) a few days ago.

If the package is agreed on the third time of asking, then the proposal is to ask the EU to delay for a short period (until 30 June 2019).

If the package is not agreed, then the proposal agreed today is to ask the EU to delay for a much longer (unspecified) period.

Specifically the proposal is to hold the vote on the package by 20 March (the day before the European Council – of EU leaders) and it notes that it is highly likely that the EU would require a clear purpose for any extension (that is beyond 30 June because the package was voted down again by UK MPs), not least to determine its length.

The Government will make a statement tomorrow, which may give further clarity on the order of events.

Reminding, further legal actions will be needed to change the exit date from 29th March.

The laws required to adjust the UK statute book so it can operate on its own, listed in the Brexit Law List on subscribers Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists, will still be required. They come into force on exit day. It is the date of the exit day that would appear to be about to be moved.

The no-deal notices and instructions still matter. Until there is a UK-EU deal that is agreed and then ratified by the UK and EU Parliaments, or the article 50 notification is withdrawn/revoked, no-deal will take place, even if the UK MPs voted yesterday (for the second time) that it should not.

Moving the exit date will be subject to agreement by the EU.

Specifically, considering the days before 29 March 2019 –

* the UK Government must agree an extension with the 27 remaining EU governments next week, and they have to agree on that unanimously with the UK Government.

* then after securing an extension from the EU, the UK Government must then introduce new legislation to change the exit date and the statutory instrument to effect this must be passed before 29 March.

* this is the case even if the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration is passed (on its third time of asking) – although this package would itself put in place a transition period.

I will issue a new Blog post when there is more information.

Events this evening 12th March (UK Brexit)

It will be clear by now that the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration (and accompanying documents) negotiated and agreed between the UK and the EU has failed for the second time at ratification (in the UK Parliament).

Tomorrow (13th March) the UK Chancellor will make his Spring Statement, a motion will be amendable on No Deal and debated for a free vote on the Government side that day, and various No Deal policies will be published.

These No Deal policies will include the arrangements for the international border on the island of Ireland, and the tariff schedules.

I will issue separate Blog posts on the No Deal policies that will be published.

I will issue another Events this evening Blog post tomorrow, after the vote is made on No Deal.

April 18 (UK & EU Brexit)

I am being asked what happens after 29 March. I post as the documents are issued, the various contingency proposals that are being prepared.

29 March is the exit date in enacted UK law (the Withdrawal Act) and the EU having accepted article 50 notification, the 29 March is the end of the two years provisioned by article 50.

I posted before that the Withdrawal Agreement (and associated Political Declaration) awaits ratification by the UK and the EU Parliaments.

In the event that the Agreement is unratified on 29 March (no deal, or disorderly Brexit, or unnegotiated Brexit) then the contingency arrangements provisioned by draft and enacted laws in the UK, the EU and in various EU member states, will kick in.

A draft EU contingency regulation (2019 EU Budget) sets 18 April as the date by which the UK should have taken action (as respects the 2019 EU Budget).

The EU contingency regulations (draft) are – here.

Please continue to follow this Blog.

(status of) Withdrawal Agreement & Political Declaration (EU-UK FTA)

UPDATE : these documents failed this evening (12th March 2019) at the second time of asking for ratification by the UK Parliament.

The EU has now published (in the Official Journal) both the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration – here.

Accompanying this is an EU Council Decision – here.

A couple of points to make :

(1) ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement (the “deal”) is required by both the UK and the EU Parliaments,

(2) the Political Declaration is a non-binding legal statement of intent, that may form the basis for the EU-UK FTA,

(3) the Withdrawal Agreement (if ratified) provides for a transition period during which — notwithstanding all consequences of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union as regards the United Kingdom’s participation in the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union — Union law, including international agreements, will be applicable to and in the United Kingdom.

The Commission, on behalf of the Union and of Euratom, would therefore notify the other parties to these agreements that the United Kingdom is to be treated as a Member State for the purposes of those agreements during the transition period.

Brexit Status – next steps (UK Brexit)

Exit day is currently set as 12pm CET 29th March 2019.

Yesterday, the UK Parliament voted down the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration package that had been agreed between the EU and UK to provide for an orderly exit.

On the UK side, although some laws are on the statute book, there is still substantive Brexit legislation that only exists in draft form, or not at all. But UK Technical Notices are published, and some Government ministries have issued more detailed information, notably HMRC, the Department for Transport, and the Home Office. Blog posts set these out (category UK Brexit Notices).

Subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists have a continually updating Brexit Law List loaded to their UK systems (or jurisdictional UK variants).

On the EU side, EU Brexit Preparedness Notices are issued, and a Contingency Plan is in place, with a useful Q&A. Blog posts set these out (category EU Brexit Notices).

The international EU-UK land border is on the island of Ireland. I posted recently on Ireland’s Brexit Preparedness. An omnibus bill of measures will be introduced shortly. I updated my Blog post online, please scroll down the latest posts.

Next steps :

(1) today, the UK Government faces a no confidence motion, which it is expected to win

(2) Monday will see the UK Prime Minister give a statement to Parliament

(3) the next days will see the UK Government explore other sorts of arrangements for an orderly exit, and it is possible the exit day could be put back to give more time.

I will issue a new Blog post next week, with any progress made.

As I said in recent Blog posts, if subscribers to the Cardinal systems wish to set up a Brexit telecon with me, to run through specifics, please email me. At the moment, I am holding these telecoms at no extra charge.