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

Ireland: Caught in the Toils Of Brexit

    In our post entitled Brexit and the Irish border issue dated 9 February 2018, we wrote: The Issue of Brexit and the Irish border – how to avoid creating some form of border within the island of Ireland – has emerged as one of the most difficult in the entire Brexit negotiation. Three and a […]

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    Commentary

    Reflections on the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement

      Agreement at last After more than four years of seemingly interminable negotiation following the United Kingdom’s 2016 referendum decision to leave the European Union, the parties finally concluded a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) at the very last practicable moment, on Christmas Eve 2020.  Ratification was rushed through both Houses of the UK Parliament on […]

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      Commentary

      Bridge over troubled waters? The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the future of UK trade policy

        The EU flag and the UK flag. Post-Brexit Trade.

        After long and arduous negotiations, the European Union and the United Kingdom signed a Trade and Cooperation Agreement  (TCA) on 24 December 2020. The agreement establishes the basis for the relationship between the two parties from 1 January 2021 onwards. The TCA largely corresponds to what we projected  close to 3 years ago, given the […]

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        Commentary

        Brexit: Be careful what you wish for

          The EU flag and the UK flag. Post-Brexit Trade.

          Brexit: Be careful what you wish for   There now seems every likelihood that the United Kingdom and the European Union will fail to reach a formal and definitive agreement on future trade and economic relations to take effect from 1 January 2021.  Thus at the end of the agreed “transition period” on December 31, […]

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          Commentary

          EU-UK: The Chips Are Down

            International trade in goods, Trade services, Professional services brexit, brexit professional services, brexit network, trade expertise, trade expertise network, Trade knowledge, trade knowedge exchange, trade compliance, trade tools, barriers to international trade, effects of tariffs, brexit trade, brexit trade deals, post brexit trade deals, post-brexit trade deals, brexit trade, brexit trade deals, trade after brexit, brexit trade agreements, brexit analysis, trade analysis,

            Introduction – a dialogue of opposites During the last week of February the European Union Council of Ministers formally endorsed the draft mandate which the European Commission had submitted, setting out objectives for a new long-term relationship with the United Kingdom.  A few days later the UK Government published a White Paper specifying its own […]

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            Commentary

            A tricky triangle: the UK’s negotiation positions for FTAs with the US and the EU

              The UK has published, in quick succession, its negotiating position for free trade agreements with, respectively, the European Union and the United States. It is an ambitious project. Few countries have attempted parallel bilateral negotiations with both the US and the EU simultaneously. Substantial differences between these two parties, especially on key issues of regulation, […]

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              Commentary

              The elusive notion of “a level playing field”

                International trade in goods, Trade services, Professional services brexit, brexit professional services, brexit network, trade expertise, trade expertise network, Trade knowledge, trade knowedge exchange, trade compliance, trade tools, barriers to international trade, effects of tariffs, brexit trade, brexit trade deals, post brexit trade deals, post-brexit trade deals, brexit trade, brexit trade deals, trade after brexit, brexit trade agreements, brexit analysis, trade analysis,

                “Level playing-field” has become one of the most commonly used phrases in international trade. It has been used for example, between the United States and China in their current series of trade disputes.   It crops up regularly between the United Kingdom and the European Union in the context of negotiating a long-term economic and trade […]

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                Commentary

                Doing free trade agreements as if policy really matters

                  At the World Economic Forum meetings in Davos,  US Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Mnuchin expressed his optimism that a UK-US free trade agreement could be signed by the end of 2020. Noting that the UK was also negotiating with the EU, he said he was a little bit disappointed that US had not been […]

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