10 Changes after Friday (UK & EU Brexit)

Exit day is Friday (12pm CET, 11pm UK time)

10 immediate changes (credit – online article of this title at ukandeu.ac.uk) – my summary

(1) The UK will no longer be an EU member state

The EU will officially become of a union of 27 rather than 28. If the UK wants to be an EU member again it would have to reapply and negotiate to rejoin.

(2) The UK will no longer have any MEPs

UK MEPs, elected in May 2019, will no longer sit in the European Parliament. Around a third of the UK’s 73 seats will be redistributed to other countries. The overall size of the Parliament will be reduced.

(3) The UK will no longer have a commissioner

Julian King was the last UK commissioner. The UK did not nominate a new candidate to the European Commission that started on 1 December, despite requests from the Commission to do so.

(4) The UK Prime Minister will stop attending European Council summits

These summits—the meetings of the heads of state and government of the EU—have become a fixture of the EU calendar and tend to be the most high-profile of all EU activities.

The UK Prime Minister will no longer have an invitation to attend, except on rare occasions where a EU-UK meeting is tacked on to a summit.

In fact, the European Council in October was the current UK prime minister’s first and last European Council meeting as prime minister.

(5) UK ministers and officials will not attend other Council meetings

It’s not just the prime minister that has been going to meetings in Brussels. For the last 47 years, UK ministers (or their officials) have regularly attended Council meetings.

Last week, Sajid Javid went to the UK’s last Economic and Financial Affairs Council. In early January Dominic Raab joined other EU foreign ministers at a meeting to discuss Iran.

The Withdrawal Agreement allows for the possibility that the UK could be invited to attend meetings in exceptional circumstances, if the topic is relevant to the UK-EU relationship.

Chris Pincher, the UK’s Europe minister, attended the UK’s last Council meeting on 28 January.

(6) UK judges will no longer sit at the European Court of Justice

British judges—Eleanor Sharpston, Ian Stewart Forrester and Christopher Vajda—will no longer be members of the two courts that form the Court of Justice of the European Union: the Court of Justice and the General Court.

Rulings on the application and interpretation of EU law, which will still apply to the UK in the transition period, and in some cases beyond, will be taken with no input from British judges.

(7) EU law will apply to the UK, not as a member state but via the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement (an international treaty)

EU law will continue to apply in the UK during the transition period.

However, it will be determined by the UK’s obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement, rather than as a Member State.

The 2020 UK Withdrawal Agreement Act effectively copies over the effects of the European Communities Act for the transition period to ensure legal continuity.

[note : I have a new category for EU Law in UK 2021 because we are waiting clarification on long tail implementation, law by law, of particularly 2019 EU instruments]

(8) The UK will be able to start trade deals with other countries

From 11pm on 31 January 2020, the UK will be able to negotiate, sign and ratify trade agreements with other countries. Implementation will be after the transition period.

While the UK in transition, the EU has asked other countries the EU has trade deals with already to continue to treat the UK as a member state for trade purposes. The intention is that these other countries should agree to the status quo during the transition period.

The UK has already agreed to roll over the EU’s existing trade deals with around 20 countries and trade blocs, and it has held preparatory talks with others which it needs to complete by the time transition ends.

But it can also start formal negotiations with other countries with whom the EU has not had a deal before, something it can’t do as an EU member.

(9) EU member states may refuse UK extradition requests for their citizens

Under the European Arrest Warrant, member states must comply with requests to arrest and/or extradite individuals who are wanted in other member states, with only some limited grounds for refusal.

This includes a time limit of 60 days to comply and member states cannot refuse to extradite their own nationals, except in limited circumstances.

The Withdrawal Agreement allows both EU member states and the UK to refuse to comply with such requests from the start of the transition period.

(10) Formal interactions with EU will take place through the UK-EU Joint Committee

While the UK was a member state it had a myriad of formal interactions with other member states and EU officials within the EU’s many institutions, bodies and agencies.

That ceases at 11pm on 31 January 2020.

Instead, a new body will be set up—the UK-EU Joint Committee—whose main job will be to oversee the implementation and application of the Withdrawal Agreement. This is of particular importance in Northern Ireland.

This will likely also become the body through which the UK and the EU manage any future trade agreement, as well as other treaties reached on matters like security and police co-operation.

Agriculture & Fisheries Bills (UK Brexit)

Exit day is Friday (11pm UK time)

The Brexit Agriculture Bill is already published and has a its Second Reading in February. The Brexit Fisheries Bill is being published later today.

The Agriculture Bill relates to England predominantly (and some provisions apply in Wales and Northern Ireland). It mainly deals with agriculture supports (phasing in a new changed basis for these supports that rewards nature and environmental protection), and government collection of data from economic actors in the food supply chain, in England. It enables England, Wales and Northern Ireland to set their own food marketing standards. Separate Agriculture Bills are expected in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Fisheries Bill is [update 30th Jan] publicised by the UK Government – it is not yet in the list of Bills. It sets up a new system for marine and coastal fisheries management, gives new powers to Devolved Governments, and includes a set of UK-wide objectives to manage fisheries stocks sustainably (and a new objective to move towards “climate-smart” fishing in UK waters). It gives new powers to the Marine Management Organisation to give advice and assistance on sustainable fisheries, marine planning, licensing and conservation overseas.

Further Blog posts will be issued on these matters in due course.

EU Law in UK 2021 (2) (UK Brexit)

UPDATE (24th Jan) : correction – the main combined cycle waste law was enacted in 2018, but the Single-Use Plastics Directive was enacted in 2019. The EU 2018 updates to the waste law (combined cycle) will be implemented. The Single-Use Plastics Directive will not be implemented.

EU Law enacted in 2019 with two year (or more) implementation deadlines in 2021 would not be implemented.

Exit day is 31st January (next Friday)

EU law continues to be enacted. I posted before about long tail implementation deadlines. I said in that post that the combined cycle waste law and other waste law updates enacted in 2019 with two year or minus more implementation deadlines would be implemented in the UK.

However, on 16th January, the BEIS Secretary answered as follows re the 2019 EU Copyright Directive –

The deadline for implementing the EU Copyright Directive is 7 June 2021. The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 31 January 2020 and the Implementation Period will end on 31 December 2020. The Government has committed not to extend the Implementation Period. Therefore, the United Kingdom will not be required to implement the Directive, and the Government has no plans to do so. Any future changes to the UK copyright framework will be considered as part of the usual domestic policy process.

Please continue to follow this Blog for further updates.

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.

Stormont Re-Start (Northern Ireland)

Following acceptance by political parties in Northern Ireland of The New Decade, New Approach Deal, Stormont will re-start after three years.

This means restoration to full operation of all the institutions of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, including the Executive, the Assembly, the North South Ministerial Council, the British-Irish Council and the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.

The following commitments in The New Decade, New Approach Deal are relevant for our purposes –

(1) The Executive will create an Executive Sub-Committee on Brexit.

The sub-committee will be chaired by the First Minister and deputy First Minister (or their nominated Ministerial representatives). The sub-committee will have at least one representative from each party on the Executive. As a matter of urgency the sub-committee will consider Brexit-related issues and will initiate, as soon as is practicable, an assessment of the impact of Brexit on the institutions and North/South and East/West relationships. The work of the sub-committee will be scrutinised by an Assembly Committee.

(2) The Executive will establish a central Translation Hub in the Department of Finance within three months of an agreement, in order to provide language translation services for the 9 Executive Departments, Arm’s Length Bodies, Local Government and Public Bodies.

The Assembly’s Standing Orders will also be amended to allow any person to conduct their business before the Assembly or an Assembly Committee through Irish or Ulster Scots. A simultaneous translation system will be made available in the Assembly to ensure that a person without Irish or Ulster Scots is not placed at a disadvantage.

(3) Representatives from the Northern Ireland Executive will be invited to be part of the UK delegation in any meetings of the UK-EU Specialised Committees or the Joint Committee discussing Northern Ireland specific matters which are also being attended by the Irish Government as part of the European Union’s delegation.

A powerful Joint Committee is established under the (international treaty) EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement to oversee that Agreement (for orderly UK exit from the EU). This Joint Committee will have Specialised Committees.

(4) The UK government will legislate to guarantee unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market, and ensure that this legislation is in force for 1 January 2021. The UK government will engage in detail with a restored Executive on measures to protect and strengthen the UK internal market.

The Deal, alongside its two annexes, represents a possible outline of a Programme for Government. The parties agree to publish, within two weeks of the restoration of the institutions, the fuller details of an agreed Programme for Government. The parties recognise that the final Programme for Government will need to be agreed by the parties who form the Executive.

Within its first month of operation, the Executive will publish a legislative programme and indicative timescales which will complement the Programme for Government.

The following are relevant Deal commitments –

(1) The Executive will make its first priority to ensure the best possible Brexit outcome for citizens and the economy, reflecting the priorities set out in the letter of August 2016 from the First Minister and deputy First Minister to the Prime Minister.

(2) The Executive will invest urgently in wastewater infrastructure (the Living With Water Programme) which is at or nearing capacity in many places across Northern Ireland, including in Belfast.

(3) The Executive will tackle climate change with a new Energy Strategy to address the immediate and longer term impacts of climate change, and set targets and actions for transition to a zero carbon society.

The parties agree that, within 3 months, the new Executive will publish a comprehensive timetable for the development and delivery of this and other strategies necessary to achieve the outcomes in the Programme for Government.

(4) The Executive will introduce legislation and targets for reducing carbon emissions in line with the Paris Climate Change Accord.

Specifically, –

* the Executive will bring forward a Climate Change Act

* the Executive will establish an independent Environmental Protection Agency

* the Executive will create a plan to eliminate plastic pollution

* the RHI (Renewable Heat Initiative) will be closed down and replaced by a scheme that cuts carbon emissions.

Please also note the statements made by the Irish Government which also summarises the Brexit supports available to border regions.

The Deal document is here.

Brexit Instructions (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st January 2020 (at the end of the month)

Happy New Year!

As of today, 2nd January 2020, the entry page to the online UK Brexit instructions (found at the base of any online gov dot uk page) does not –

(1) stipulate the transition period end date (it currently is 31st December 2020), nor

(2) identify new rules that would change the No Deal baseline

As more information comes online and is published, I will issue applicable Blog posts. Please look out for them.

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.

New Ireland/Northern Ireland Trade Arrangements (UK Brexit)

* Exit day is 31st January 2020

* Withdrawal Treaty transition period end is 31st December 2020

The revised UK-EU Withdrawal Treaty is expected to be ratified shortly by the UK enacting the UK’s EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill (currently in draft, known as the WAB). This will bring into force both the Exit day and the transition period.

The Withdrawal Treaty includes an Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol of new trade arrangements that will apply to trade between the UK and the EU via the island of Ireland after the transition period.

* Ireland is an EU member state.

* Northern Ireland (NI) is part of the UK.

* The UK will be a third country vis a vis the EU after Exit day.

* The transition period stays (delays) the effect of Exit to give time for a trade deal to be put in place between the UK and the EU.

The Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol makes a number of arrangements applicable to trade – that will apply after the transition period –

(1) Northern Ireland (NI) will operate inside the EU’s single market for industrial goods and agrifood, and comply with the EU’s Union Customs Code (whilst at the same time Norther Ireland will remain a legal part of the UK’s customs territory – the Protocol does not affect the UK customs territory).

(2) Goods entering NI from GB will be coming from a third country (the UK). Because those goods will be able to cross the land border into the EU’s single market, then customs procedures, tariffs, regulatory and agrifood checks will be required at the NI points of entry from GB: Warrenpoint, Belfast and Larne ports, and at airports – or more likely due to lack of infrastructure – at the GB ports of exit: Liverpool, etc, acting for the EU.

(3) Goods going in the opposite direction, Northern Ireland to GB, will require summary exit declarations under the EU’s Union Customs Code. The detail of this is not yet published.

(4) Beyond that, checks on goods going from Northern Ireland to GB will be up to the UK. It will have obligations under the WTO and may want to “protect” its own internal market from Irish-origin and therefore EU goods. In addition, new trade deals the UK agrees outside of the EU sphere may stipulate or necessitate the checking of some goods.

(5) Much depends on the detail of the new set-up –

Under the UK-EU Withdrawal Treaty , a specialised sub-committee, which forms part of the overall UK-EU Joint Committee to be created under the UK-EU Withdrawal Treaty to manage the new relationship between Britain and Europe, will agree certain aspects.

Note : the EU has acknowledged that Ireland will need to have a reserved seat – along with Spain and Cyprus, who have Protocols of their own on Gibraltar and the issue of the British military base on Cyprus in the UK-EU Withdrawal Treaty – at the Joint Committee table.

The sub-committee will agree a list of goods and categories of goods which are only destined for, or will be consumed in, Northern Ireland – in other words, where there is no obvious risk they will cross the border and enter the single market.

(6) Goods from GB to NI (dealt with by this sub-committee) may be exempted from tariffs altogether, or where tariffs are paid and where the EU tariff is higher than the UK one, importers will be able to apply for a rebate.

(7) Live animals will be checked coming in to NI from GB (as they are now), and agrifood products GB to NI will also need to comply with EU food safety requirements.

(8) The new UK-EU trade deal itself will also affect the work of the Joint Committee specialised sub-committee – if the UK-EU trade deal results in zero tariffs and quotas, then that will largely remove the need for tariff exemptions and rebates on goods moving from GB to Northern Ireland (traders would still have to do the paperwork to show that the consignments they are moving are actually tariff-free).

I will post further on this matter, when more information is available.