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Brexit round-up – 28/02/20

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.

UK publishes Brexit trade mandate

On Thursday, the UK published its mandate, entitled “The Future Relationship with the EU,” setting out the negotiating strategy to agree a trade deal with the EU. The document lays out negotiating aims on things including fishing and financial services and the controversial “level playing field” rules, which would set out the extent to which the UK must align to EU regulations in exchange for market access. It states “Whatever happens, the Government will not negotiate any arrangement in which the U.K. does not have control over its own laws and political life. That means that we will not agree to any obligations for our laws to be aligned with the EU’s or for the EU’s institutions, including the Court of Justice, to have any jurisdiction in the U.K.” The document states that the UK “will not negotiate any arrangements in which the UK does not have control of its own laws and political life,” that the UK’s aim is for a trading relationship with the EU similar to the ones the 27-nation bloc has with Canada, Japan and South Korea, that there will be no jurisdiction for EU law or the European Court of Justice in the UK, that the UK will rely on World Trade Organization rules under an arrangement with the EU similar to Australia’s if progress on a comprehensive deal cannot be made and that a separate agreement on fisheries is needed, to reflect the fact that “the UK will be an independent coastal state at the end of 2020.” The Government wants to agree a “broad outline” of a deal with the EU “capable of being finalised by September” in the next four months and if that does not happen it will decide whether to switch focus to leaving on WTO terms at the end of December. The mandate adds that if no agreement is in sight by June, the Government could ditch negotiations and focus on preparing to leave without a trade agreement, under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, and a range of mini-agreements on other areas.

For more information please click here.

EU ministers agree mandate

The EU mandate for post-Brexit trade talks with the UK has been approved by the EU General Affairs Council on Tuesday and will serve as “a reference point” and will be the basis for negotiations which are due to start next week. Michel Barnier will carry out talks on behalf of the EU. The EU’s mandate says that its “envisaged agreement should uphold common high standards, and corresponding high standards over time with Union standards as a reference point.” It says this should apply “in the areas of state aid, competition, state-owned enterprises, social and employment standards, environmental standards, climate change, relevant tax matters and other regulatory measures and practices in these areas.”

For more information please click here.

UK wants to strike a “comprehensive free trade agreement” in 10 months, says Gove

Michael Gove has told MPs that the UK wants a trade agreement in place within the next 10 months and that the Government would not accept any alignment with EU laws as the EU is demanding. Mr Gove said “We will not trade away our sovereignty.” Mr Gove also said “Geography is no reason to undermine democracy. We will not be seeking to dynamically align with EU rules on EU terms governed by EU laws and EU institutions.” The UK’s negotiating team will be led by Boris Johnson’s Europe adviser David Frost and will begin next week.

For more information please click here.

French President unsure whether UK-EU trade deal possible by deadline

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he is “not sure” a UK-EU trade deal will be struck by the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December and said the negotiations which are due to start on 2 March will be “tense”. He said that fishing rights could create issues in negotiations following the UK saying it will consider a deal on fisheries but it must be based on the notion that “British fishing grounds are first and foremost for British boats”.

For more information please click here.

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.

The UK in transition: What does it mean for our business?

Join us in Newcastle on Wednesday 18th March for an engaging and thought-provoking session centred around the emerging consequences of Brexit, the UK’s pending trade deal with Europe and what it all means for business in our region.

Click here for further information and to book.

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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