Updates

Brexit

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.  

May 25, 2020
Brexit

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 UK-EU CFTA Annexes 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.

May 25, 2020
Brexit

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

May 25, 2020
Public Policy

  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 UK-EU CFTA Annexes 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.

May 22, 2020
Public Policy

As an update to the ongoing Brexit negotiations, the UK government has confirmed to the EU it will enhance inspection posts at Northern Ireland's ports in order to deliver on the Brexit deal. Junior Minister Declan Kearney told a Stormont committee that the Northern Ireland Executive had been given a briefing by officials on Monday on the latest stage of Brexit negotiations between the UK government and the EU. This communication took place via letters, which have been understood to have been exchanged in the last two weeks, focused on what are known as Border Control Posts (BCPs). Under the Brexit deal, reached in October 2019, Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU single market rules on agricultural and manufactured goods. The EU has strict rules on the entry of animals and food products into the single market, and these products must always enter the single market through designed BCPs. Therefore, the establishment of BCPs at Northern Ireland's ports was always going to be a consequence of the Brexit deal.  

May 18, 2020
Public Policy

The European Commission launched infringement proceedings against the United Kingdom on Thursday 14 May 2020, for failure to comply with EU law on the free movement of EU citizens and their family members. UK national legislation limits the scope of beneficiaries of EU free movement law in the UK as well as the possibilities for EU citizens and their family members to appeal administrative decisions restricting free movement rights. During the Brexit transition period, which is due to end on 31 December 2020, EU law on free movement applies to the UK as if it were still a member of the bloc. The Commission said it was concerned that current shortcomings endanger the implementation of EU citizens' rights that was formally agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK signed in January. “The UK now has four months to take the necessary measures to address the shortcomings identified by the Commission," the Commission statement said, adding that otherwise it might have to send a formal request to UK authorities to comply. This news comes as a part of the European Commission’s regular package of infringement decisions, where the body pursues legal action against Member States for failing to comply with their obligations under EU law.

May 18, 2020
Brexit

The third round of Brexit negotiations between the EU and UK government concluded on Friday 15 May 2020. The negotiations began on Monday 11 May and lasted for the whole week. The full agenda of the negotiations can be found on the European Commission’s website. The parties discussed issues in areas such as trade in goods, transport, and the UK's participation in future programmes of the Union, however no real progress has been reported and the negotiations have said to have reached an ‘impasse’. As per chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier’s concluding press statement, there was no real progress on topics such as a single governance framework, fisheries or level playing field provisions. To further make matters difficult, both sides insist progress can only be made if the other side gives up its core demands. While Mr. Barnier urged the UK “to change its strategy”, UK’s chief negotiator David Frost has stated, “we very much need a change in EU approach”. Even though both sides agreed on a divorce package last year that allowed the UK to continue to trade with the EU, the two sides remain at an impasse on various issues. Mr. Barnier has yet again reiterated the EU stance, that “this is not an opportunity for the UK to “pick and choose” the most attractive elements of the EU Single Market”, which has been countered by Mr. Frost’s statement stating the EU position as “a major obstacle…on a reaching a mutually beneficial agreement”. Further highlighting the disagreement, Irish Tánaiste Simon Coveney has also said that a no-deal Brexit is now a real risk because the UK is looking for something different to what was committed in the Political Declaration. Meanwhile, UK cabinet minister Michael Gove has said there was a post-Brexit trade deal to be done with the EU, providing the bloc agreed to compromise. Both sides are due to decide by the end of June whether the current deadline for negotiating an agreement should be extended beyond the end of December. The fourth round of negotiations is scheduled for 1 June 2020. The UK government has also said that it intends to make public all of its draft legal texts next week. The Brexit timetable now looks more difficult than ever.

May 18, 2020
Brexit

  In today’s bulletin, read about the latest updates from the EU and UK’s third round of Brexit negotiations. Additionally, the European Commission has taken legal action against UK on free movement. You can also read about the UK government’s plans to enhance border checks at Northern Ireland ports post-Brexit. Third round of Brexit negotiations ends today The third round of Brexit negotiations between the EU and UK government has concluded today. The negotiations began on Monday 11 May and lasted for the whole week, concluding on Friday 15 May 2020. The full agenda of the negotiations can be found on the European Commission’s website. As a part of their discussion, both sides are due to decide by the end of June whether the current deadline for negotiating an agreement should be extended beyond the end of December. European Commission takes legal action against UK for failure to comply with EU rules on free movement The European Commission launched infringement proceedings against the United Kingdom on Thursday 14 May 2020, for failure to comply with EU law on the free movement of EU citizens and their family members. UK national legislation limits the scope of beneficiaries of EU free movement law in the UK as well as the possibilities for EU citizens and their family members to appeal administrative decisions restricting free movement rights. During the Brexit transition period, which is due to end on 31 December 2020, EU law on free movement applies to the UK as if it were still a member of the bloc. The Commission said it was concerned that current shortcomings endanger the implementation of EU citizens' rights that was formally agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK signed in January. “The UK now has four months to take the necessary measures to address the shortcomings identified by the Commission," the Commission statement said, adding that otherwise it might have to send a formal request to UK authorities to comply. This news comes as a part of the European Commission’s regular package of infringement decisions, where the body pursues legal action against Member States for failing to comply with their obligations under EU law. UK government to enhance border checks at NI ports As an update to the ongoing Brexit negotiations, the UK government has confirmed to the EU it will enhance inspection posts at Northern Ireland's ports in order to deliver on the Brexit deal. Junior Minister Declan Kearney told a Stormont committee that the Northern Ireland Executive had been given a briefing by officials on Monday on the latest stage of Brexit negotiations between the UK government and the EU. This communication took place via letters, which have been understood to have been exchanged in the last two weeks, focused on what are known as Border Control Posts (BCPs). Under the Brexit deal, reached in October 2019, Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU single market rules on agricultural and manufactured goods. The EU has strict rules on the entry of animals and food products into the single market, and these products must always enter the single market through designed BCPs. Therefore, the establishment of BCPs at Northern Ireland's ports was always going to be a consequence of the Brexit deal.   Read further updates on our Brexit web centre.

May 15, 2020
Tax UK

In its response to the consultation examining the establishment of freeports in the UK, the Northern Ireland tax Committee stated the importance of ensuring that the customs rules set out in the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland will apply for goods moving onwards to the Republic of Ireland and vice versa once goods leave a freeport.   The Committee also made a number of other recommendations in the area of tax and freeports including: -  recommendations that any employer NICs incentives for Freeports should go beyond the incentives currently in place in the UK  enhanced capital allowances could be offered akin to those currently available within UK Enterprise Zones;   the annual investment allowance (“AIA”) limit could be higher than that available to other UK businesses  a higher rate of relief (say 10 per cent) could be made available for new structures and buildings (currently 3 per cent); and   the business premises renovation allowance scheme could be re-introduced.   

May 05, 2020
Public Policy

Following the end of the second round of Brexit negotiations last week, the EU and UK met on 1 May 2020 to discuss the details of the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol. The committee on the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol is one of the six specialised committees under the Joint Committee established to implement the Withdrawal Agreement. Also, read about the UK’s updated Financial services legislation under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018. EU-UK specialised committee on Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol meet for the first time Following the end of the second round of Brexit negotiations, the EU and UK have met on 1 May 2020 to discuss the details of the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol. The committee on the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol is one of the six specialised committees under the Joint Committee established to implement the Withdrawal Agreement. While these discussions are legally separate to the EU and UK’s future relationship negotiations, they hold immense importance in deciphering the nature of future customs, regulatory and veterinary checks to be applied to products entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, with UK officials in charge of carrying out the controls. The compromise avoided the risk of a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, while keeping Northern Ireland inside the UK’s customs territory. However, the new system needs to be ready for when Britain’s post-Brexit transition period expires at the end of this year. The committee met virtually and was co-chaired by EU and UK officials. Philippe Bertrand, a senior official in Michel Barnier’s task force lead the EU delegation, while Brendan Threlfall, a senior civil servant who has dealt with issues relating to Ireland throughout the Brexit negotiations led the UK side. Andrew McCormick, Director General - International Relations, represented the Northern Ireland Executive on the UK side. In a statement following the meeting, the EU has said: “The proper and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement remains a key priority for the EU, in particular for maintaining peace and stability on the island of Ireland in the context of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement, while ensuring the integrity of the Single Market. A new partnership can only be built on the faithful and effective implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.”   UK financial services legislation under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 The UK HM Treasury has updated their programme of secondary legislation to ensure that the UK continues to have a functioning financial services regulatory regime in all scenarios, when the UK leaves the EU. This collection sets out how HM Treasury intends to use the powers under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, to ensure that the UK will have a functioning financial services regulatory regime in all scenarios, when the UK leaves the EU. This work involves making statutory instruments (SIs) under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act to prevent, remedy or mitigate any failure of EU law to operate effectively after the UK leaves the EU. These SIs are not intended to make policy changes, other than those necessary to reflect the UK’s new position outside the EU, and to smooth the transition to this situation. Visit their dedicated page to see updated guidance, including the addition of ‘Trade Repository Registration Arrangements under the UK Securities Financing Transactions Regulation’ document under Approach Papers.     Read further updates on our Brexit web centre.  

May 01, 2020
Brexit

Lack of progress in latest post-Brexit trade talks, says EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said that there is a lack of progress and engagement from the UK on key post-Brexit negotiation issues. These remarks were made at a press conference following the end of the second round of Brexit negotiations. The full agenda for the second round of discussion from 20-24 April 2020 can be viewed here. Discussions resumed this week by videoconference after a six-week standstill amid the COVID-19 crisis. The next two rounds of talks are scheduled for 11 May and 1 June. Take a look at some of the key takeaway points from the press conference in today’s bulletin. Key takeaway points from the press conference were as follows:  There has only been partial progress this week, the UK is failing to act on commitments set out in the Withdrawal Agreement The UK cannot refuse to extend the transition period, while slowing down discussions in important areas Barnier notes the UK's rejection of an extension to the transition period, saying this decision will have consequences. "Time is short", he said, "once again the clock is ticking" As well as future relations, it is urgent that the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement must be respected - especially on the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol We need clear evidence that the UK is advancing with the agreed customs procedures for goods entering NI from GB", and that UK can carry out SPS and regulatory checks on goods entering NI from GB from 1 January 2021 Talks this week have been "disappointing" in several areas: including the commitment to a level playing field, governance of future arrangements, and the role of the European Court of Justice No progress on fisheries so far. On this essential issue the UK has put forward no paper. The EU will not agree to any future economic partnership that does not include a balanced and sustainable agreement on fisheries. The next two rounds of talks are scheduled for 11 May and 1 June.   Read further updates on our Brexit web centre.

Apr 27, 2020
Public Policy

  The EU and UK have said there will be three further negotiating rounds by video conference before both sides must take stock of progress on the future relationship negotiations by mid-June. The negotiations will start on today. The original schedule had foreseen nine rounds of negotiations during the same period, but due to the COVID-19 outbreak, negotiations had to be pulled back and replaced by video conferences where possible. Progress made on Brexit negotiations – talks to resume starting today The EU and UK have said there will be three further negotiating rounds by video conference before both sides must take stock of the progress made on the future relationship negotiations by mid-June. The negotiations will start on the weeks beginning 20 April, 11 May and 1 June. The original schedule had foreseen nine rounds of negotiation during the same period, but due to the COVID-19 outbreak, negotiations had to be pulled back and replaced by video conferences where possible. Going by the agreed upon timeline, progress on the negotiations is due to be assessed by a conference in mid-June, involving UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. This announcement came following a video conference between the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost. Despite the impact of the virus, both sides have exchanged draft legal texts and there has been contact between both teams to clarify the texts. If the UK are to stick to their strict timetable and leave the EU without their much-coveted deal in a post-COVID-19 economy, it could potentially have a highly adverse impact. The UK government has however, consistently said it will not seek an extension to the transition period.   Read further updates on our Brexit web centre.

Apr 16, 2020