Brexit round-up – 31/07/20
31st July, 2020
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.
Statements following fifth negotiating round
The UK government and the European Commission have published statements on the outcome of the fifth round of negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship which took place between 20 to 23 July 2020. The statements indicate that, while some progress was made, substantial areas of disagreement remain but both noted that constructive discussions were held on trade in goods and services. Divergences were narrowed in the areas of social security co-ordination and the UK’s participation in EU programmes. The European Commission statement said useful discussions took place on transport and energy but noted the UK government continued to request single market-like benefits. The European Commission statement reported progress towards the objective of a comprehensive and single institutional framework whilst the UK government’s statement confirmed that the government is ready to consider simpler structures, provided satisfactory terms can be found for dispute settlement and governance, having heard the EU’s concerns about a complex Switzerland-style set of agreements. The statements noted that considerable gaps remained on the level playing field and fisheries. According to the European Commission statement, the UK government refuses effective means to avoid undercutting by lowering standards in the fields of climate, environment, labour or social law; while no progress was made at all on state aid. The statement added that, by its current refusal to commit to conditions of open and fair competition and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK government makes a trade agreement unlikely. The next restricted round of negotiations is scheduled for 27 July 2020, and the next full round for the week commencing 17 August 2020. The European Commission has indicated that agreement must be reached in October 2020 at the latest to come into force on 1 January 2021.
Trade deal “at this point unlikely”
Following the trade talks EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said “By its current refusal to commit to conditions of open and fair competition and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes a trade agreement at this point unlikely.” However, David Frost said that whilst “considerable gaps” remained in these areas, he still believed a deal could be reached in September but that the government must “face the possibility” one will not be struck. The two chief negotiators are due to meet informally in London next week and another round of official talks are scheduled for mid-August in Brussels.
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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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