14 Nov 2018 Withdrawal Agreement (EU-UK Brexit)

I posted yesterday (Brexit Status) that Withdrawal Agreement text had been agreed between EU and UK negotiators. This text was agreed last night at a meeting of the UK Cabinet, and then published – here. Alongside the 14 Nov 2018 Withdrawal Agreement text, a starter for the Outline Political Declaration on the Future Relationship was also published, and a Joint Statement (in that link).

Alongside this, DExEU also published and Explainer and Explanatory Notes – here.

The EU also published a Fact Sheet on the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) text – here, and a Fact Sheet on the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland (one of the 3 Protocols to the WA) – here.

The 14 Nov 2018 Withdrawal Agreement has 185 Articles, 3 Protocols, and a series of Annexes.

The objective of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is to put in place an orderly exit of the UK from the EU on 12 midnight CET (11pm GMT) 29 March 2019 – dealing with matters such as citizen rights, money, and a series of separation technicalities. The WA (if ratified as a Treaty) also puts in place a Transition Period (in the UK, this is termed an Implementation Phase) lasting until 31 December 2020, during which EU Law will continue to apply and trade will be unchanged.

Note :

(1) the WA text must pass through a series of gates before ratification as a Treaty. When a Treaty, it will be given effect by the EU (Withdrawal and Implementation) Bill in the UK, which itself must be created and enacted. And this new Bill will necessarily amend and rewrite parts of the already enacted EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018. It is hoped, but by no means certain, these gates can be crossed by the exit date of 29 March 2019.

(2) during the transition to 31 Dec 2020, EU Law would continue to apply to and within the UK and override domestic law. But, as the UK will be a third country, this means it will have only minimal influence on the creation and enactment of EU law in that phase.

(3) a single extension for an (at present unspecified) length of time is permitted to the Transition Phase, this extension to be agreed by 1 July 2020. A firm end date will need to be negotiated by the European Council on 25th Nov (if it takes place).

(4) a specific Protocol for handling the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is the first of 3 Protocols in the 14 Nov 2018 WA text. This Protocol includes a detailed “backstop” to be used if the Future Relationship is not in place by the end of the transition period.

(5) the UK is a Third Country on exit on 29 March 2019, the transition period gives a further short period for transition to this Third Country status (relationship with the EU).

(6) the objective is to transition from the current EU member state status direct to the Future Relationship (Trade Agreement) status, via the Transition Period (which could be extended).

Further work is ongoing, and the WA text must pass a series of gates.

It is essential that Brexit Preparedness planning continues, and that the current Brexit Preparedness and Brexit Contingency EU and the UK Notices are read and understood. I have posted these. Please keep following this Blog for updates.

UK exits the EU (WTO goods schedules)

UPDATE (3) : objections also lodged by other countries

UPDATE (2) : objection is lodged by New Zealand – here. Earlier feedback is here.

UPDATE (1) : UK has now (end July 2018) submitted its WTO services schedules; and its GPA (procurement agreement) schedules to WTO and GPA members.

Yesterday 24th July, both the UK and the EU each filed their (goods) documents at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The EU said it will renegotiate its WTO trade commitments (to account for the UK exit from the 28-nation bloc) under Article 28 of GATT, a lengthy process involving the other WTO members – here.

The UK said it will make technical changes to its current WTO commitments (presently encompassed within those of the 28-nation bloc) via a 1980 procedure known as a technical rectification – here. The proposed UK Schedule referred to is here.

The WTO Press Release is here. WTO Members have three months to review the UK Schedule, and the UK Schedule is considered approved if there are no objections.

Background

The UK is already a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It is one of the founder members of both the WTO and its predecessor, the 1948 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade – the “GATT”.

As with every other member of the WTO (and if outside the EU-28 bloc that has its own schedules), the UK would require its own “schedule of concessions” for goods and “schedule of specific commitments” for services. These schedules indicate specific commitments and obligations assumed by WTO members on tariff rates and other concessions. They provide predictability concerning market access for trade and are an integral part of the WTO agreements.

UK-specific WTO schedules are underway, which, as far as possible, the UK intends, will not alter the scope of UK market access obligations either in goods (GATT) or services (GATS) schedules.

In goods, this also includes the market access currently enjoyed by trading partners under Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) and Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS).

In services, it also means preparing a UK-specific Annex on Article II (Most Favoured Nation Treatment) exemptions under the GATS.

The UK intention is to have WTO schedules on the way to certification by the point of exit from the EU.

The UK Policy Paper – Trade White Paper: Preparing for our future UK trade policy – government response – here – says

Should the goods and services schedules be uncertified as we leave the EU, we do not anticipate there to be any problems – it is not uncommon for WTO members to operate on uncertified schedules for periods of time. In any case we will continue to work for as early a certification point as possible. The EU itself has not had up to date certified schedules since the EC15 enlargement in 1995.

Background reading on Services Schedules is here.