Brexit Bulletin, 22 May 2020

May 22, 2020


In a series of developments, Brexit negotiations have picked up speed once again. Starting with the announcement of the UK’s new Global Tariff System, the UK have also published the legal texts of their draft negotiation documents, and the much-awaited proposal outlining their approach to implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol. With the fourth round of negotiations set to take place on 1 June 2020, read today’s bulletin to find out more.


UK publish approach to implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol

The UK government has published its approach to implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol on Wednesday 20 May, as part of meeting in full its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union.

The command paper outlines how the protocol can be implemented in a pragmatic manner: one that protects the interests of the people and economy of Northern Ireland, recognises Northern Ireland’s integral place in the United Kingdom and its internal market, provides appropriate protection for the EU Single Market, and respects the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland.

The paper also sets out four key commitments that will underpin the UK Government’s approach to implementing the Protocol:

  • Deliver unfettered access for Northern Ireland businesses to the whole of the UK market
  • Ensure there are no tariffs on goods remaining within the UK customs territory
  • Discharge obligations without the need for any new customs infrastructure in Northern Ireland
  • Guarantee that Northern Ireland businesses benefit from the lower tariffs delivered through our new Free Trade Agreements with third countries


As a background to the implementation of the Protocol - The solution for Northern Ireland in the Protocol was designed as a practical way forward to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland. The Protocol will only remain in force as long as the people of Northern Ireland want it to. Democratically elected institutions in Northern Ireland will decide whether to extend or end the arrangements in a consent vote that can take place every four years, with the first vote set to take place in 2024


UK publish draft negotiation documents outlining approach to Future Relationship with the EU

As per the outcome of the third round of negotiations between the UK and the EU, the UK have published the legal texts of their draft negotiation documents. As outlined below, “The Future Relationship with the EU” document lays out a suite of proposals for the UK’s negotiations with the EU. The draft legal texts are the legal articulation of this approach and have formed the basis of discussions with the EU.

The main element of the UK’s approach is the comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, or FTA, covering substantially all trade. They have also proposed a separate agreement on fisheries, an agreement on law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, and agreements in technical areas covering aviation, energy and civil nuclear cooperation. The document suite also includes correspondence from UK chief negotiator, David Frost, to his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier.

Some important documents are highlighted below:

Letter from David Frost to Michel Barnier: 19.05.20

The Future Relationship with the EU

DRAFT UK-EU Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (CFTA)


DRAFT Fisheries Framework Agreement

DRAFT Energy Agreement

DRAFT Social Security Coordination Agreement

DRAFT Agreement on Law Enforcement and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters

For the complete suite of documents, visit the page: UK’s approach to the Future Relationship with the EU.


UK unveils new post-Brexit tariff regime

From 1 January 2021, the UK will apply a UK-specific tariff to imported goods, which will replace the current EU Common External Tariff. The new bespoke UK Global Tariff (“UKGT”) will apply to goods imported into the UK (including Northern Ireland) irrespective of their source unless an exception such as a preferential arrangement, tariff suspension, or Free Trade Agreement applies. It is the first time the UK has set its own tariff regime for almost 50 years.

As per the new system, the UK will slash import tariffs on certain products and scrap the EU calculation system to determine food levies. The UK will also round tariffs down to their nearest 2 per cent, 5 per cent, or 10 per cent, depending on their existing level, to simplify the regime, and will cut tariffs on environmental products such as LED bulbs.

You can read the Institute’s response to the government’s consultation process to develop this regime. Readers can also use the UK Global Tariff tool to check the tariffs that will apply to goods they import from 1 January 2021.  Read the summary of public responses and government response for full details.


Read further updates on our Brexit web centre.