Monday, 12 February 2018

No Fudge - the Next Stage of Negotiations between the EU and UK

Author Siona Watson (originally posted to Flickr as STP62099)
Licence CC BY 2.0
Source Wikimedia Commons
















Jane Lambert

In my December Brexit Briefing 9 Jan 2018 I wrote:
"To my great surprise and joy our government's representatives achieved sufficient progress in their negotiations with the Commission on citizens' rights, the Irish border and the financial settlement for the Commission to recommend to the Council that "sufficient progress has been made in the first phase of the Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom" (see the Commission's press release Brexit: European Commission recommends sufficient progress to the European Council (Article 50) 8 Dec 2017)."
There are some, particularly in the UK, who regard  Joint report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the United Kingdom's orderly withdrawal from the European Union that made it possible for the negotiations to move beyond citizens' rights, the financial settlement and Ireland as something of a fudge.

Whether or not that is the case, Monsieur Michel Barnier, the Chief Negotiator for the Commission, does not appear to be buying any,  In a speech that he delivered on 9 Feb 2018, Monsieur Barnier noted that both sides acknowledge the need to preserve the Good Friday agreement but added
"it is important to tell the truth. A UK decision to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union would make border checks unavoidable."
The British government appears to believe that there are "specific solutions to the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland" but it has not yet announced what they are. In the meantime, the Commission seeks to include in the withdrawal agreement a guarantee that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic in any circumstances.

In the same speech, Monsieur Barnier made clear that the offer of a transition or implementation period between 29 March 2019 and 31 Dec 2020 "is not a given." He flagged up plenty of potential deal breakers of which the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union on the resolution of any disputes on EU law, the rights of EU citizens who enter the UK during the implementation period, the British government's insistence on rights to object to new laws affecting its interests and to opt into new laws on Justice and Home Affairs are just a few.

If negotiations break down, the country will exit the EU in just over 14 months time without a deal.  That would be a problem for many in the remaining member states but not a disaster.  For the UK it  could well be worse.  If the BuzzFeed disclosures are to be believed, that would be the worst possible outcome for many regions of the UK and much of British industry.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or Brexit in general should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Brexit Briefing - January 2018

Michel Barnier
Author Foto-AG Gymnasium Melle
 Licence CC BY-SA 3.0
Source Wikimedia Commons























Jane Lambert

The month started quietly with a period of contemplation on the terms of the interim agreement on citizens' rights, the Irish border and the financial contribution and ended in a ruckus with BuzzFeed's publication of a leaked government memo that predicted bad outcomes for every type of Brexit (see Alberto Nardelli This Leaked Government Brexit Analysis Says The UK Will Be Worse Off In Every Scenario 29 Jan 2018 BuzzFeed). That led to ministers' dissing their own civil servants and a back bench Tory MP accusing HM Treasury of all kinds of skulduggery.

That same back bencher provided the only drama of the month when he asked the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union whether the UK would be a vassal state between 29 March 2019 and 31 Dec 2020 at a hearing of the House of Commons Select Committee on Exiting the European Union on 24 Jan 2018 (see  Will the UK be a Vassal State during the Implementation Period? 30 Jan 2018). Surprisingly Mr Davis came close to admitting to the committee that it would though only for a short period. Mrs May subsequently intervened to say that we would not admit new arrivals from the EU member states on the same terms as before and that we would seek a new mechanism to challenge any new laws that would harm our interests.

As to the relationship that will subsist between Britain and the EU after the 31 Dec 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Brexit called for "a new economic partnership with the EU – the most ambitious in the world – that recognises the extraordinary levels of interconnectedness and cooperation that already exist between us" in a joint article for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung." To continental eyes that looks very like cherry picking or having your cake and eating it.  Michel Barnier anticipated that speech and warned
"A country leaving this very precise framework and the accompanying supervision gains the ability to diverge from it but by the same token loses the benefits of the Internal Market. Its financial service providers can no longer enjoy the benefits of a passport to the Single Market nor those of a system of generalised equivalence of standards."
In other words we can have a free trade agreement and it may even have some provisions for the supply of services but it will fall far short of the frictionless trade conditions that we now enjoy (see Davis and Barnier set out their Negotiating Strategies for the Next Phase of Brexit Talks 11 Jan 2018).

On 17 Dec 2017 Daniel Alexander QC, Chair of the Intellectual Property Bar Association, together with the Chair of the IP Law Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales and the Presidents of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys ("CIPA") and the IP Federation, signed a memorandum to the Government entitled Intellectual property (IP) law and Brexit Summary of main requests for the UK government a copy of which can be downloaded from the CIPA website (see IP and Brexit - Key Requests to Government).  One of those requests is ratification and continued UK participation in the Unified Patent Court but that looks increasingly unlikely as exit day approaches. The question for now is what if anything can be salvaged from the UPC Agreement. I wrote about that topic on 26 Jan 2018 in NIPC Law and I am due to talk about it to Queen Mary University London on 12 Feb 2018 (see Implications of Brexit on Intellectual Property Law 19 Jan 2018 NIPC Law).

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or Brexit in general should call me on +44 (0)29 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Withdrawal Agreement - Not a done deal yet

Hanover from space Author  NASA/Chris Hadfield Licence Copyright waived by copyright owner Jane Lambert ...