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 weekly basis.
EU-UK Future Relationship Updates
The UK announced a further extension to grace periods on good checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain
• This week Brexit minister David Frost said the UK would continue to operate the Northern Ireland Protocol on the current terms, effectively unilaterally extending the grace periods currently in force.
• Frost said the UK will continue dialogue with the EU to “to see if it is possible to make genuine and substantive progress on the proposals in our Command Paper on the protocol”.
• The UK hopes that the move pushes the EU to renegotiate the protocol, with the EU saying that its focus “remains on identifying long-term, flexible and practical solutions to address issues related to the practical implementation of the Protocol”.
• The grace periods on border checks due to expire on October 1 include requirements for businesses to use export health certification for meat, dairy, fish and eggs products going from GB to NI. There are also suggestions that the UK could delay some controls on EU imports, also due to start on October 1.
• Though the UK and EU are far apart in this area – the UK wants an overhaul of the treaty, whilst the EU has no intention to renegotiate the protocol – neither side currently seems willing to dramatically escalate tensions.
• The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Jeffrey Donaldson, meanwhile, has threatened to collapse the Stormont power sharing agreement unless the Northern Ireland protocol is dropped.
• Donaldson said his party would also now boycott most north-south ministerial meetings, and block the imposition of any new checks at ports in Northern Ireland.
• Adrián Vázquez Lázara, Legal Affairs Committee chair of the European Parliament, has said that the simplest solution for the UK Government to accede to the Lugano convention is to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The UK automatically left the convention when it exited the EU but applied for re-accession in April 2020.
• The Convention clarifies which national courts can deal with certain cross-border civil and commercial legal cases and provides for easy mutual recognition of rulings.
• The European Commission, earlier this year, informed the Swiss government – depository of the convention – it would not recommend accepting the UK’s application.
Tensions grow over channel crossings
• The UK Government has voiced anger at France over migrant boat crossings after more than 1,500 migrants crossed the English Channel this week alone.
• Home Secretary Priti Patel told MPs that France “won’t see a penny” from the £54.2m/ €63m Britain had promised to pay to double coast-guard patrols.
• Meanwhile, France has urged the UK Government to stick to the coast-guard patrol deal, and said that Britain would look bad if it placed new conditions on the deal.
• In an attempt to stop migrant crossings, the UK Government is seeking to rewrite its interpretation of international maritime law to enable British coast-guards to intercept and push back migrant boats into French waters instead of rescuing them directly.
• The French interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, has labelled the proposal “blackmail” and “posturing” from his UK counterpart.
Other EU-UK Relationship News
• The British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, is closing many of its overseas offices as the pandemic and lockdown measures have meant that income from English-language teaching and exams have sharply fallen.
• The Council will close its offices in the USA and Belgium, as well others in Africa and South America, and cutting staff in other European countries.
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