Although the EU-UK trade agreement has been concluded, it has become clear that there are still many issues to resolve and many areas left for the UK and EU to discuss further. At Instinctif Partners we will continue to track the evolving EU-UK relationship and monitor major changes in regulations the UK or the EU may adopt post-Brexit on a fortnightly basis.
EU-UK Future Relationship Updates
Northern Ireland Protocol
The UK Government remains steadfast in its call for the renegotiation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
• This week, the European Commission published proposals on the movement of medicines, livestock and animal products with Northern Ireland to help ease the implementation of the Protocol. These ‘non-papers’ lay out how procedures, such as quality controls or inspections, “may exceptionally be located in the UK” instead of the EU, provided the medicines are to be sold only in Northern Ireland.
• The proposals have since been rejected by the UK Government, with a UKG spokesperson insisting that the two sides instead needed “comprehensive and durable solutions”. On medicines, UKG outlined that “the solution the EU has set out…remains the same as the one they sent to us in late June – the EU has not addressed the issues and concerns that we have raised with them.”
• David Frost, UK Brexit Minister, has also this week highlighted that UKG will continue to consider triggering Article 16, which would suspend the NI Protocol, unless there was to be significant changes to the legal text of the Protocol. If that were to be the case, the European Commission would most likely challenge such a decision. From this point, we would see the UK and the EU go to arbitration, which raises a real risk of a trade war in the future.
• However, recent movement from the European Commission on pausing legal action could signify a change in their approach, and a willingness to find a solution to the Protocol. See below.
Legal Proceedings against the UK
EU suspension of legal proceedings against the UK.
• The EU has agreed to suspend legal proceedings against the UK this week, to provide “space to reflect” on the UK Government’s recent proposals on the NI Protocol, set out in the Command Paper.
• This move from Brussels follows the UK request for a ‘standstill’ period, where Lord Frost, the UK Brexit Minister, proposed that current grace periods on trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain be extended, and the ongoing legal action from the EU frozen.
• The EU had launched the legal action in March this year after the UK Government unilaterally extended certain grace periods to support supply chains, through relaxing controls on British supermarket suppliers and businesses trading in Northern Ireland.
The Lugano Convention
The EU recommends UK Lugano Convention application be rejected
• The international treaty was negotiated in 2007 by the EU on behalf of its member states. The treaty attempts to clarify which national courts have jurisdiction in cross-border civil and commercial disputes. It also ensures that judgments taken in such disputes can be enforced across borders.
• The UK ceased to be a member of the convention following its exit from the European Union and has now applied to accede as an independent member.
• Accession requires the agreement of all signatories, but the EU has recommended that member states reject the UKG’s application. The Commission holds that Lugano membership is a “flanking measure” of the Single Market, and that the UK, as a ‘third-country’, has no locus for re-admission into the Convention.
The UK and France sign a post-Brexit Security Treaty
Monday 26 July saw Britain and France sign a limited post-Brexit security treaty. This aimed at:
• Protecting passengers on Channel ferries from terror attacks;
• Allowing the two countries to share information on potential threats;
• Mount “swifter and stronger initial responses to serious security incidents”.
• Bringing the two countries’ security services closer together, this treaty aids the earlier agreement signed Monday 19 July, seeking to curb the number of migrants illegally crossing the Channel.
• In addition, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Gerald Moussa Darmanin, the French interior minister, aim to persuade the EU to agree to a replacement for the Dublin Agreement, designed to enable European countries to share the burden of asylum-seekers crossing the continent.
Other EU-UK Relationship News
UK hopes to reset relationship with Germany
• Boris Johnson is banking on a bilateral relationship with Berlin to help reopen the Northern Ireland Protocol, despite Angela Merkel ruling out a negotiation. No. 10 is already eyeing Merkel’s likely successor, Armin Laschet, in the hope to reset bilateral relationships between the two countries.
Irish supreme court goes to the CJEU
• The Irish Supreme Court has referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union a case regarding the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system between Ireland and the UK. The Appellants had claimed the EAW system between the two nations was invalid because Ireland had not exercised an opt-in to the new measures under Protocol 21 of the Treaty on the European Union.
UK to overhaul funding of research and development post-Brexit
• Business Secretary, Kwesi Kwarteng, has unveiled initiatives to boost British competitiveness after Brexit. The strategy involves an independent review that would “assess the landscape of UK organisations undertaking all forms of research, development and innovation”, according to Kwarteng.
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