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Brexit Future Relationship

Brexit Update: Government publishes its White Paper on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union

Elizabeth Wilson 14 July 2018 No comments

The Government has published its much anticipated White Paper this week on its proposed future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union after the UK’s departure from the EU.

The White Paper sets out a blueprint for the deal that it is seeking, which it intends to use as the basis for the next round of negotiations with the EU on the Future Framework, alongside the Withdrawal Agreement, starting next week.

The proposal structures the future relationship around both an economic and a security partnership, underpinned by joint institutional and governance arrangements that would enable the UK and the EU to cooperate through regular dialogue and address issues as they arise.

Economic Partnership

When the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, it will leave the Single Market and the Customs Union and free movement will end.

The new economic partnership between the UK and the EU includes the following key proposals:

  • A free trade area for goods. This would require a ‘common rulebook’ for manufactured goods, food and fisheries products, covering only those rules necessary to provide for frictionless trade at the border. This would avoid the need for a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  • Participation by the UK in EU agencies that provide authorisations for goods in highly regulated sectors i.e. the European Chemicals Agency, the European Aviation Safety Agency and the European Medicines Agency, accepting these agencies’ rules and contributing to their costs.
  • A new ‘Facilitated Customs Arrangement’ as if the UK and EU were a combined customs territory, removing the need for UK-EU customs checks and controls. In conjunction with ‘no tariffs on any goods’, integrated supply chains across the UK and EU would be protected.
  • New trading arrangements on services and digital, including e-commerce, that would provide the UK with regulatory freedom for the services-based economy. The UK and EU would not, however, enjoy current levels of access to each other’s markets.
  • New economic and regulatory arrangements for financial services that would preserve the mutual benefits of integrated markets, whilst allowing the UK and EU to control access to their own markets. It is noted that these would not replicate the EU’s passporting regimes.
  • Continued cooperation on energy and transport, including preserving the Single Electricity Market in Northern Ireland and Ireland.
  • An open and fair trading environment, committing to a common rulebook for state aid, establishing cooperative arrangements between regulators on competition and agreeing to maintain high standards in areas including employment rules and the environment.
  • Free movement of people to be replaced by a new framework allowing the UK Government and Parliament to determine the domestic immigration rules that will apply.
  • Reciprocal mobility arrangements with the EU in a defined number of areas. Proposals include:
    • supporting businesses to provide services and to move their talented people;
    • allowing UK and EU citizens to continue to travel without a visa to each other’s countries for tourism and short-term business trips; and,
    • facilitating mobility for students and young people.

Security Partnership

The UK will no longer be part of the EU’s common policies on foreign, defence, security, justice and home affairs.

The new security partnership that is proposed includes:

  • Participation by the UK in key agencies, including Europol and Eurojust, accepting these agencies’ rules and contributing to their costs.
  • Maintaining existing operational capabilities to protect the UK and EU citizens’ security, including law enforcement agencies’ ability to share critical data and information to investigate serious criminality and terrorism.
  • Coordination on foreign policy, defence and development issues to tackle the most pressing global challenges together where it is more effective to work side-by-side.
  • Joint capability development of the UK and EU’s military.
  • Wider cooperation on counter-terrorism, civil protection, cyber security, health security and tackling the causes of illegal immigration.

Other Areas of Cooperation

Outside the two core partnerships, the Government is proposing cooperation between the UK and the EU in the following key areas:

  • Personal data protection – facilitating the continued free flow of data to support business activity and security collaboration.
  • Fishing – establishing new arrangements for annual negotiations on access to waters.
  • Collective endeavours to better understand and improve people’s lives worldwide – through cooperative accords for science and innovation, culture and education, development and international action, defence research development and space, with the UK making an appropriate financial contribution.

Institutional and Governance Arrangements

The Government is proposing joint institutional and governance arrangements to underpin the future relationship.

The arrangements would ensure that the new relationship is transparent and accountable, as well as flexible in that it is able to evolve and respond to changing circumstances.

These would include new forms of regular dialogue between UK and EU leaders and ministers, a clear process for updating rules in the common rulebooks and “robust and appropriate means for the resolution of disputes”.

The resolution of disputes would take place through a Joint Committee, and in many areas through binding independent arbitration which would “accommodate” the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) as the interpreter of EU rules.

However, the CJEU would no longer have the power to make laws for the UK or to have the final say in disputes and the UK courts would pay due regard to EU case law in only those areas where the UK continued to apply a common rulebook.

The negotiations

The White Paper’s concluding remarks are that “on the basis of the proposal set out in this White Paper, the UK’s negotiating team will now engage with the EU’s at pace”.

However, with the current political noise around the proposal, it remains to be seen whether it will actually make it to the negotiating table.