UK-EU Future Relations (UK)

Today sees the publication by the UK of a number of trade relevant documents –

(1) the UK Global Tariff (UKGT) that will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff from 1st January 2021 – here

(2) the draft UK legal texts in the ongoing trade talks with the EU – here

The UKGT will apply to all goods imported into the UK unless:

• an exception applies, such as a relief or tariff suspension

• the goods come from countries that are part of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences

• the country imported from has a trade agreement with the UK

This Blog does not focus on Trade or Customs. Note – commencing in July 2020, we (Cardinal Environment Limited) will be putting some staff through the UK Customs Academy Level 4 qualification, this is in order to improve our services in the areas of Trade and Customs, that impinge on goods movement.

Trade talks are underway with the EU and the US.

The UK Government will announce shortly it’s proposals for how Northern Ireland based traders will benefit from the UKGT. The Withdrawal Agreement Ireland-Northern Ireland Protocol creates special arrangements for Northern Ireland. I will Blog post separately at that point.

Brexit and COVID-19 measures (EU)

The UK left the EU at end of January 2020, and will leave the transition period at end of December 2020.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11th March 2020.

These two events are prompting substantive changes in many occupational, health and safety, and environment related measures in EU member states and at EU level.

The EU’s Brexit measures are found here.

[the first round of negotiations on a trade deal with the UK to operate from 1st January 2021 was held 2-5 March, the second round is not scheduled]

[the EU published a new draft legal text on 18 March here, new UK legal texts submitted to the EU in March are not published]

The EU’s COVID-19 measures are found here.

[note the measures announced to keep air cargo moving – here]

The EU’s Brexit and the COVID-19 measures are rooted in law. Cardinal Environment Limited advises on occupational health and safety law and environmental law via Email Alert to subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists. The next Email Alert on EU-26 Registers & Checklists will be at the next 6-month interval (as usual). Ireland receives monthly Email Alerts due to its connectivity with the UK (its next Email Alert is end of March unless otherwise a different interval is operated).

Subscribers are reminded that they can request Annual Review (a teleconference) on renewal of annual subscriptions, and this is recommended.

Of particular note are –

(1) changes around borders, goods transport and people mobility to keep the Single Market open during the COVID-19 pandemic

(2) measures that may result from the EU-UK trade deal negotiations

Individual member states will be operating internal COVID-19 emergency –

(1) changes around workplace organisation, particularly additional requirements to keep the workplace safe and provide for home working

(2) temporary bans on the opening of some business premises on health grounds

(3) changes around worker employment (this Blog does not address detailed matters of Employment Law)

UK-EU Free Trade Agreement (UK Brexit)

The UK government issued today (17th March 2020) the statement set out below –

In light of the latest guidance on coronavirus, we will not formally be convening negotiating work strands tomorrow in the way we did in the previous round.

We expect to share a draft FTA alongside the draft legal texts of a number of the standalone agreements in the near future still, as planned.

Both sides remain fully committed to the negotiations and we remain in regular contact with the European Commission to consider alternative ways to continue discussions, including looking at the possibility of video conferencing or conference calls, and exploring flexibility in the structure for the coming weeks.

The transition period ends on 31 December 2020. This is enshrined in UK law.

The Withdrawal Agreement (the international treaty between the UK and the EU) allows the UK to apply (by end June) to extend the transition period for up to two years.

Negotiating Directives (EU Brexit)

UPDATE : the draft negotiating directives are here.

UPDATE : the UK Prime Minister’s statement – here (it’s a Ministerial Statement).

The EUTF will present the draft negotiating directives for the future relationship negotiations with the UK in a press conference at 11am CET.

Watch live at this address: audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/ebs/live

I will update this post, online, (you won’t get a new Blog post, so diarise to check back online) with a link to these draft objectives when they are published. These will anyway be found on the EU’s new website (see my earlier Blog post this morning).

The ‘Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom’ (UKTF) was established on 16 November 2019, as part of the European Commission’s Secretariat-General.

It replaces the Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 TEU, which was created on 1 October 2016 to lead withdrawal negotiations.

Michel Barnier was reconfirmed as Head of the Task Force. The Deputy Head of the Task Force is Clara Martinez Alberola.

The Task Force coordinates all the Commission’s work on all strategic, operational, legal and financial issues related to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, in full respect of European Council guidelines. This includes the negotiations on the future relationship with the UK, the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, as well as the Commission’s ‘no-deal’ preparedness work.

The Task Force operates under the direct authority of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and in close cooperation with the Secretariat-General, all Commission services concerned and the European External Action Service (EEAS).

[the UK Prime Minister will also make a speech this morning, the content of this speech is already briefed to the UK press]

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.

22 Nov 2018 Political Declaration (EU-UK Brexit/FTA)

Today (22nd Nov 2018) is published the text agreed by negotiators for the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the Future Relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. This document is here, and here.

(the Declaration is in the Annex starting on the second page)

The Declaration is agreed in principle at the Political level, subject to the endorsement of Leaders. It will remain a political document, and is not a legal document per se.

The text of the Declaration states that it is made under the Art 50 process set out in the EU Treaties for a member state to exit the Union, and it accompanies the Withdrawal Agreement text I posted about recently (dated 14 Nov) that has been endorsed by the EU and the UK, subject to ratification.

Clause 1 of the Declaration states :

1. The European Union, hereafter referred to as “the Union”, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, hereafter referred to as “the United Kingdom”, (“the Parties”) have agreed this political declaration on their future relationship, on the basis that Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) provides for the negotiation of an agreement setting out the arrangements for the withdrawal of a departing Member State, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. In that context, this declaration accompanies the Withdrawal Agreement that has been endorsed by the Parties, subject to ratification.

Further steps for the Withdrawal Agreement (and its accompanying Political Declaration) are :

(1) vote in the UK and EU Parliaments

(2) ratification by Leaders individually

The Withdrawal Agreement text is not reopen for change, save as respects the Transition Period extension clause, where an end date needs to be inserted. It is understood an option for two dates may be inserted, either a further 12 months to end Dec 2021 or a further 24 months to end Dec 2022. It is expected this will occur by this Sunday.

The Withdrawal Agreement is a legal document, made under EU law, which, if ratified, is international law as respects the UK after its automatic exit at end of March 2019.