Brexit Bulletin, 23 October 2020

Oct 23, 2020

Following a flurry of three phone calls between UK and EU chief negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier, the UK delegation was finally “ready to welcome the EU team to London to resume negotiations this week.” Following a week of diplomatic back and forth, the deadlock in Brexit talks seems to finally be broken. Read our Brexit Bulletin today to find out more about the future of negotiations between the two blocs. Also, read about the introduction of a new “Financial Services Bill” in the UK aimed at opening up the UK’s markets in a post-Brexit world.

 

Official Brexit negotiations resume following diplomatic “tug-of-war”

Following a flurry of three phone calls between UK and EU chief negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier, both teams resumed “intensified” negotiations in London yesterday (Thursday 22 October) which will run until Sunday (25 October) . The parties have also jointly agreed a set of principles for handling this intensified phase of talks. This contains information on the logistical details of the negotiations.

Michel Barnier has also told the European Parliament that “we will seek the necessary compromises on both sides in order to reach an agreement.” This sentiment was also  echoed by Taoiseach Micheál Martin where he told a press conference at the launch of “Shared Island” initiative that his “gut instinct is that there is a desire on both sides to reach an agreement.” He also reiterated the Irish Government’s preference for a deal, to prevent turmoil on both sides of the border.

Meanwhile, citizens and businesses on both sides are scrambling to prepare for Brexit following UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of a potential “Australia-style exit” from the EU if negotiations fizzle out. In a latest press release, Chartered Accountants Ireland has warned that the concerns of hard-pressed businesses across the island of Ireland are being side-lined as Brexit negotiations approach their conclusion. As each deadline passes, the fear is that businesses right across the island of Ireland will ultimately become the collateral damage from this failure of diplomacy.

“We are getting along just fine...”

– was the mood music at the latest EU-UK Joint Committee meeting earlier this week. Set up to ensure the suitable implementation of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement met on Monday, UK Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič led both sides amidst recent tensions.

The conversation were reported to be amicable and addressed concerns on both sides of the table. Areas such as the securing of EU citizen rights in the UK were discussed in detail, followed by the complex issue of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. In a major development, the EU agreed to give the UK access to the necessary IT systems, databases and networks needed to fulfil its obligations under the Protocol, to ensure proper development of border control posts, and VAT especially for Northern Irish traders.

Amid reports that the EU has dropped its demand for an office in Belfast in favour of a small number of officials at NI ports, it seems that agreement on the Protocol issue was possible. However, talks are signalled to intensify, with the Joint Committee set to meet again in mid-November.

 

Brexit Briefing: Navigating Trade Beyond Borders

Readers can now watch the Institute’s latest webinar on “Navigating Trade Beyond Borders” on YouTube, as the speakers discuss the political aspects of the current negotiations, the impact on both ROI and NI businesses, the common transit convention and using the UK and EU as landbridges, and how customs administration can be simplified down the line using SGS’s TransitNet.

 

UK proposes Financial Services bill

The UK government has introduced its Financial Services bill in the House of Commons – the first step in shaping a regulatory framework for the UK’s financial services sector outside of the EU. The law would amend a number of rules across the UK financial industry, covering investment funds and pensions products, bank capital and the powers of regulators. Measures covered in the bill aim to:

  1. Enhance the UK’s world-leading prudential standards and promote financial stability
  2. Promote openness between the UK and international markets
  3. Maintain an effective financial services regulatory framework
  4. Increased penalties for market abuse

More detailed measures can be found on the UK Government’s web page.

 

“EU residents in UK should be given a residence permit”, say UK Members of Parliament

The House of Commons Brexit committee have backed a call for allocating physical UK residence cards to EU citizens residing in the UK following the end of the Brexit transition period. UK MPs have called for a physical card to be issued to EU citizens in the UK under the “EU Settlement Scheme”, arguing that relying only on digital identification is risky, and could put EU citizens at a disadvantage.

The committee has supported this demand, further increasing pressure on the UK Home Office, which argues that a physical card is not necessary and would be too expensive. The committee has also stated that this practice would be in line with the EU’s common residence card that will be issued for UK nationals in the EU, post-Brexit.

 

For all Brexit updates, visit our Brexit webpage.