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

Brexit – Where now?

Where the United Kingdom stands now UK politics are in turmoil following the Government’s last-minute decision on 10 December to postpone the House of Commons “meaningful vote” – which had been scheduled for the following day – on the draft UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement and its accompanying Political Declaration on future bilateral relations.  Ministers had been […]

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Commentary

Brexit – Wherever Next?

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

    BREXIT – WHEREVER NEXT? On November 14 2018 the United Kingdom Cabinet agreed, following what was described as an “impassioned” debate, to the draft EU Withdrawal Agreement and the associated Political Declaration on the future UK/EU relationship which had been negotiated by officials.  That opened the way for the EU 27 heads of government, to […]

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    Commentary

    The UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on Future Arrangements: Five Key Points for UK Trade Policy.

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

      In perhaps the most significant development since the UK voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, negotiators representing the UK and the EU member states have struck an agreement on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from EU membership. Accompanying that draft Withdrawal Agreement is a draft Political Declaration that provides a framework […]

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      Commentary

      BREXIT – FOUR MONTHS TO GO

      Where we are now It is now almost a month since the European Council discussion of Brexit on October 17, which had for many months been the target date for agreement on the UK’s terms of withdrawal. That meeting produced no agreement, but also no surprises because expectations on both sides of the Channel had […]

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      Commentary

      Edging towards a people’s vote on Brexit?

        On Saturday October 20 the second, long-planned, march in support of a People’s Vote (that is, a further referendum) on the terms of any eventual Brexit deal took place in London.  In perfect autumn weather the march wound its way from Park Lane through the centre of London in the direction of Parliament Square, where […]

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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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