Brexit Bulletin, 2 March 2020

Feb 28, 2020

 

The EU has formally adopted the draft recommendations on negotiating its future relationship with the UK. The approved directives fully respect existing European Council guidelines and conclusions, as well as the Political Declaration agreed between the EU and the UK in 2019, covering areas such as state aid, competition, state-owned enterprises, social and employment standards, environmental standards, climate change, relevant tax matters and other regulatory measures and practices.

EU ministers give official green light to Brexit negotiations

Earlier this week, the European Union’s (EU) General Affairs Council formally adopted a decision to authorise the opening of the future partnership negotiations between the EU and the UK. The associated negotiating directives are based on the draft recommendation put forward by the Commission on 3 February 2020. The approved directives fully respect existing European Council guidelines and conclusions, as well as the Political Declaration agreed between the EU and the UK in October 2019. The directives cover areas of state aid, competition, state-owned enterprises, social and employment standards, environmental standards, climate change, relevant tax matters and other regulatory measures and practices. Formal negotiations are set to start next week on 2 March 2020.

The UK has also published its counterpart of the negotiating directives yesterday, titled “The Future Relationship with the EU: The UK’s Approach to Negotiations”, following the statement by Michael Gove, Minister for the Cabinet Office, in the House of Commons about the UK Government’s negotiating mandate for post-Brexit trade talks with the EU. Mr Gove also stressed upon the UK’s decision to end the transition period on 31 December 2020 by stating that "we (the UK) want the best possible trading relationship with the EU, but in pursuit of a deal we will not trade away our sovereignty."

 

European Commission published FAQs on Brexit talks

The European Commission has released a set of FAQs for the public on the practical aspects of the future EU-UK partnership’s negotiating directives. The Commission’s aim is to maintain full transparency, and some frequently asked questions, are paraphrased below.

Have you agreed with the United Kingdom yet about practical arrangements for the negotiations?

Practical issues will be agreed jointly between the EU and UK negotiators.

Can you really negotiate everything by the end of the year?

The Commission intends to achieve as much as possible during the transition period. We are ready to work 24/7 to make the best out of the negotiations. It is possible to extend the transition period by 1 to 2 years. This decision must be taken jointly by the EU and the UK before 1 July.

Extending the transition period: if no decision is taken by July 2020, surely there is an alternative mechanism, if needs be?

If no decision has been taken by the Joint Committee before July 2020, there is no other legal basis for extending the transition beyond 2020.

Is there still a risk of a “no-deal” scenario at the end of the year?

As in every negotiation, the risk of not reaching an agreement is there. Regardless of whether a future partnership will be in place, all businesses need to prepare now for the end of the transition period, as the UK will no longer be in the Single Market or the Customs Union.

 

Read more FAQs on the European Commission’s dedicated webpage.