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.

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.

Retained EU Law (UK Exit)

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

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 is the governing Law.

Some EU legislation will continue to have effect in the UK legal system post-exit. This is called ‘Retained EU Law’.

EU regulations (not EU directives), certain EU decisions and EU tertiary legislation (now known as delegated and implementing acts), will be retained (converted and incorporated) in the UK legal system as they have effect immediately before Exit day.

EU-derived domestic legislation that reproduces the effect of an EU regulation, decision or tertiary legislation, are not retained. This is to avoid duplication on the statute book after exit.

EU legislation is only converted and incorporated into domestic law “so far as operative immediately before Exit day”.

The default position is that EU legislation is operative if it is in force immediately before Exit day. However, some EU legislation applies in a staggered way over time, and the Act ensures that, so far as a relevant instrument has entered into force and applies before Exit day, it will be converted into domestic legislation.

It is only if the provision is “stated to apply” from a later time, and that time falls on or after Exit day, that the provision would not fall within the ambit of the section. So, where there is a stated date of application, and this date falls after Exit day, the provision is not converted.

This means that, provided it is not expressly stated to apply from a date falling on or after Exit day, EU legislation which is in force before Exit day will be converted even if it has some effect which crystallises after Exit day.

For example the EU fluorinated greenhouse gases regulation [No. 517/2014]. the whole of which is in force and – by virtue of its Article 27 – is stated to apply from 1 January 2015, prohibits the supply of equipment containing certain substances from specified dates, several of which fall after Exit day. These future prohibitions apply now, even though they do not take effect until after Exit day. They are therefore converted under the Act and will take effect on the specified dates.

In the case of EU decisions which specify to whom it is addressed, if the date of notification to the addressee (for example the UK or a person in the UK) falls before Exit day then that decision is converted.

In the case of EU directives – these are not part of EU retained law in any event. EU directives will have dates by which member states should have domestic legislation in place. If these dates are beyond Exit day, then it will be a matter of enforcement of non- implementation by the European Commission (on an action, for example, taken by an aggrieved party).

Export Health Certificates (NI Brexit)

Exit day is 31st October (this date is set out in a statutory instrument)

An Export Health Certificate (EHC) is an official document that confirms a food or animal export meets the health and quality requirements of the importing country.

The EHC has to be signed by a vet or other qualified person in the exporting country after they have inspected the goods.

Food products being imported into the EU from a non-member state require EHCs.

They’re signed by vets to assure the importing country that produce is safe and without them trade can’t happen.

Around 18,000 of them a year are currently produced in Northern Ireland mostly to cover the trade in live animals to Britain.

This Blog does not cover animal or food trade, but many have asked me questions on this matter, and so here is my Blog post.

Various persons raise the issue of scarcity of vets and EHC costs, in Northern Ireland. It is possible the UK could cut a deal that would see it follow the EU’s rules for a period after Brexit, allowing trade to continue while a permanent arrangement was worked out. But this would not get around the need for a huge number of trade certificates, in any event.

DAERA (the relevant NI agency) says it is recruiting new staff and retraining existing ones to cope with the new trading arrangements.

“While we anticipate that current trade will adjust, it is difficult to gauge demand for certification as businesses may not make decisions until post Brexit. We are currently assessing the resources available and how we will prioritise based on the potential scale of the demands.”

It is encouraging businesses to sign up to advice workshops it’s beginning to run from next week.