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.

Exit day (EU & UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st January 2020 (a Statutory Instrument will be issued shortly)

The Exit day has been put back, and the UK government will today seek approval to hold a general election in December.

There are further steps after the expected election approval later today, notably re Northern Ireland (where the government there did not meet the deadline to resume operation) and then five weeks of the campaign.

There are further steps after the election date – the swearing in of the MPs, election of the Speaker, Queens Speech etc.

It is expected UK Law making will resume at the start of January 2020.

The Environment Bill passed its Second Reading last night, and its associated timetable and ways and means motions also passed.

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill passed its Second Reading some days ago, but its associated timetable motion was not agreed.

The Budget will be held over until the New Year.

Please look out for further Blog posts.

Exit day (UK and EU Brexit)

The current Exit day is 31st October – Thursday week.

This evening, the Programme Motion to timetable the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill beyond its Second Reading failed, and the Bill is in limbo.

Remember – the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill (when enacted) will ratify the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

The UK Prime Minister has responded that he will talk to the EU about the Exit day extension request that was received by them from the UK on Saturday last.

The EU is expected to grant an extension to the Exit day.

Please look out for further Blog posts on the matter.

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]

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.

EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement (Deal) (UK Brexit)

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

UPDATE : useful Q&A here.

The EU and the UK have just now jointly announced their negotiators have reached agreement (the Deal).

The UK Prime Minister will arrive imminently in Brussels for the Summit of European Union Member State Leaders, along with the other Leaders.

I hope the legal text will be issued shortly. If it is, I will update this post online – or post a separate Blog post.

The Deal is expected to be agreed by the EU27 Leaders today.

As we know, the last version of the Withdrawal Agreement failed it’s UK Parliament ratification stage.

The Leader of the House of Commons confirmed earlier today the UK government is planning to move a *single* motion on Saturday, presenting a choice to UK MPs (that take their seats, Sinn Fein excluded therefore) between this Deal & No Deal, fulfilling simultaneously the requirements of *both* the Benn Act and s. 13 of the EU (Withdrawal) Act (i.e. the meaningful vote).

UPDATE : the Commons leader’s office clarifies the Government will table two motions for Saturday – deal or no deal – and will only move one depending on outcome of Brussels summit.

It WILL NOT be a single, either or, motion.

If the House of Commons approves the deal on Saturday, the UK government will move on Monday to introduce the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) (a Brexit Law) that must be passed if the UK is to ratify the Agreement.

[note the Environment Bill is also scheduled for its Second Reading next Wednesday, as well]

Please expect further Blog posts on the matter – in particular on those aspects which are different from the original Withdrawal Agreement.

What is happening this week (UK Brexit)

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

UPDATE : 26 bills

Today, the minority UK government introduces its new legislative programme of 22 Bills, including a Withdrawal Implementation Bill and an Environment Bill. The debate that ensues is likely to vote down this legislative programme, in whole or in part.

At the same time, the minority UK government is negotiating with the EU for an orderly Exit. We will know on Wednesday if an agreement (UK-EU) is possible to be presented at the European Council meeting of EU leaders on Thursday and Friday.

In the event a UK-EU agreement is reached, the next step is ratification in the UK Parliament and the EU Parliament.

The UK Parliament will sit on Saturday 19th, to decide what it will do.

Please look out for further Blog posts on the matter.

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.

Orderly Exit? (UK Exit)

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

Reports this morning (and last night) identify the UK state will make a new proposal to the EU for an orderly exit (termed “Deal” in common parlance).

In the event that this proposal is accepted, in full or with agreed changes, then an orderly exit would result on Exit day, under the terms of a new UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement (that was ratified by both the UK and the EU Parliaments and all Member States).

If this occurs, then there would be a new Withdrawal and Implementation Bill or Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the UK. In the last round, only a White Paper was published (2018).

This Withdrawal Agreement Bill, if enacted, would change the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and delay the action of the Brexit Law on the UK statute book.

The UK would Exit on Exit day, but the effect of the Brexit Law would be delayed.

Some Brexit Law (amended) would take effect on Exit day, and some Brexit Law (amended) would take effect at the end of 2020.

In some topics, and in some geographical regions, UK and EU Law would remain aligned until the end of 2020 (and in some cases to 2025).

Please expect to see further Blog posts.