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Brexit round-up – 23/10/20

Welcome to this, our latest Brexit round-up. Each week we provide a succinct round-up of the latest news surrounding the Brexit process, so you can keep abreast of the issues which are likely to affect your organisation.

European Council conclusions call on UK to move to reach deal

The European Council has published its conclusions on the EU leaders’ discussions on the future UK-EU relationship at the end of the first day of the two-day summit. EU leaders expressed concern that there was still insufficient progress on the key issues to reach an agreement. It said that more work needs to be done, particularly on the issues of a level playing field, governance and fisheries. While the EU was determined to reach a deal and have as close as possible a partnership with the UK, it would not be “at any cost”, as President Michel remarked after the meeting. The European Council called on the UK to “make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible.” The European Council called for all member states, EU institutions and stakeholders to increase their work on preparedness and readiness for all outcomes, including no agreement. It also invited the Commission to consider proposing unilateral and time-limited contingency measures.

For more information please click here.

House of Commons rejects House of Lords amends to Agriculture Bill

The House of Commons debated the House of Lords-proposed amendments to the Agriculture Bill but rejected them, including the amendments to strengthen the role of the Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC). Of the numerous suggested changes and over 125 proposed amendments that were put forward by the House of Lords, only a handful were moved to a vote to be returned to the House of Commons for inclusion in the Agriculture Bill. The procedure under the Parliament Act 1911 was evoked by the Government to state that the House of Lords could not pass legislation concerning the authorisation of expenditure. The Government stated that the amendment tabled by Lord Curry, which strengthens the operation of the Trade Standards Commission, would result in further public expenditure. TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn, said “This is a shocking piece of political chicanery to prevent MPs from a vote on this important piece of legislation. Over a million people signed a petition earlier in the year calling on the Government to ensure the strongest standards in trade and it is an issue for which there has been cross-party support.” The Agriculture Bill will now be returned to the Lords with the Commons Reasons for their disagreement.

For more information please click here.

Businesses urged to begin preparations for end of Brexit transition period

Business Secretary Alok Sharma has made a statement reminding UK businesses that the ”vast majority” of actions can be taken now to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020. Mr Sharma stated that some changes, including the process for hiring people from the EU, are guaranteed and outlined certain preparations, such as ensuring staff register for residency rights, that should be made as soon as possible. He also announced that he will be writing to 600,000 firms across the UK to remind them of the upcoming changes.

For more information please click here.

Government extends power to depart from retained EU case law

The Government has laid the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (Relevant Court) (Retained EU Case Law) Regulations 2020 (Regulations) before Parliament, together with a draft explanatory memorandum. The Regulations extend the power to depart from retained EU case law after the end of the transition period to specified appeal courts (relevant courts), including the Court of Appeal in England and Wales, the Inner House of the Court of Session and the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland under regulations 3 and 4(1). This power, which is engaged when the court is interpreting retained EU law, had been vested only in the Supreme Court and the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland under section 6 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. It also establishes that the relevant courts must, when deciding whether to depart from retained EU case law, apply the same test as the Supreme Court would apply in deciding whether to depart from its own case law, namely where it considers it “right to do so”. It further affirms the existing rules of precedent between decisions of the domestic courts.

For more information please click here.

Trade talks resume

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier arrived in London this week, for the first time since late September, to resume face-to-face trade talks with the UK after negotiations stalled last week after a summit in Brussels where EU leaders called on the UK to “make the necessary moves” towards a deal. Intensified talks are due to take place daily until Sunday in order to try to reach an agreement before the end of the transition period with subsequent negotiations planned in both Brussels and London. Mr Barnier said “compromises on both sides” were needed whilst the UK said “significant gaps” remain in the most difficult areas. They have agreed that “nothing is agreed” until progress has been reached in all areas and the key areas of disagreement currently are fishing rights, post-Brexit competition rules and how any deal would be enforced.

For more information please click here.

Video: Employing EU national post Brexit transition

An internationally diverse workforce is the norm in many sectors, as easy access to non-UK nationals has enriched the talent pool. Freedom of movement within the EU has increased competitiveness, and sharpened everyone’s focus, employers’ and employees’ alike. But will this change next year when the transition period comes to an end, and what do businesses need to consider when recruiting and building the best workforce in the future?

In this video immigration specialist Flora Mewies enlightens us about the post Brexit landscape.

Click here to view.

If you have any questions about any of the issues which are raised, or would like to discuss your own organisation’s options during the Brexit process, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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