EU-UK Partnerships

The negotiations that took place in 2017 between the EU and the UK, after the latter had formally invoked Article 50 of the treaty of Lisbon, focused on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the Union. On December 15, the European Council decided that sufficient progress on these talks had been achieved to allow the EU and the UK to progress to the next phase of the talks. This phase will focus on the nature of the future partnership between the EU and the UK. The UK for its part has called for a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement to be concluded.

The UK has already signalled its wish to leave both the single market and the customs union. In various position papers issued over the course of 2017, it has called for a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement. It has also pointed to the benefits of ensuring that trade between the UK and the EU remain as “friction free” as possible. The Trade Bills and Customs Bills presented to parliament also clearly envision that the UK will be able to negotiate trade agreements with the rest of the world.
In order to ensure that the transition to new arrangements is not disruptive, the UK has also proposed a two-year transition period during which it current arrangements would continue to apply. The EU Council has interpreted this to mean that during that time, the UK will remain within the single market and apply all its rules, and be part of the EU’s customs union and common commercial policy. The latter would rule out any formal negotiations between the UK and non-EU partners.
There are currently around 280 free trade agreements worldwide that are in force and that have been notified to the WTO. But the future UK-EU trade partnership is in a category of its own since (i) liberalisation within the EU, including the UK, has gone much further than in any other trade agreement in the world; and (ii) the starting point for most trade negotiations is that countries seek to increase their level of integration with each other, whereas in this case, the aim to renegotiate the nature, and possibly level, of integration between parties.
This in turn raises critical issues as to how the renegotiation could be conducted in a way that manages risks to citizens and businesses. The publications posted below provide some initial analysis of the issues and options facing negotiators.

 

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Commentary

Democracy, Referenda, and Brexit

A new “People’s Vote”? Less than six months now remain until the legal date for Brexit of 29 March 2019.  In the last few days there have been some more optimistic-sounding briefings on both sides of the Channel about the prospects for agreement, but these were quickly toned down. There is still no agreement, either […]

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Commentary

What moves on Free Movement?

Along with the Irish border, the question of free movement was one of the seemingly intractable questions at the recent EU summit in Salzburg. Put simply the EU does not want to convey the impression that it is possible  for the UK – or any other member -to give up a commitment to this key […]

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Commentary

Brexit: The UK Government’s Negotiating Proposals for Goods

Introduction The UK Government’s long-awaited White Paper setting out a negotiating position on post-Brexit trade and other relations with the European Union was published on July 12 2018.  Previous Government statements on these issues mostly expressed generalised aspirations for the UK’s future relations with the Union and with other trade partners world-wide.  The White Paper […]

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Knowledge

An interactive trade policy simulator for the UK

    The White Paper on future arrangements between the UK and the European Union (EU) proposes a free trade agreement (FTA) between both parties. It also sets out the UK’s objective of pursuing an independent trade policy. This includes signing FTAs with global trade partners. The United States, Australia and New Zealand are specifically mentioned. And […]

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    Commentary

    What if Brexit Leads to “No Deal”?

    Throughout the Brexit process an eventual “No deal” situation has been held out to the public of the United Kingdom variously as a horror scenario or as a launch-pad for future national development. The prospects of a “No deal” outcome, and the conflicting views as to what it means, have been expressed with considerable force […]

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