EU27 leaders confirm “sufficient progress” and releases guidelines for phase two

Following the European Parliament’s vote on 13 December and the European Council’s (EU27 leaders) confirmation today, Brexit negotiations are formally being allowed to move forward to phase two. New guidelines for the EU for this phase of negotiations have been released by the European Council following their formal adoption, read these here.

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Brexit negotiations ready to move to next phase

Following agreement reached in the early hours today on the Irish border issue, the negotiators have agreed that sufficient progress has now been made on the first phase of the negotiations in order to move on to the next phase which will cover preliminary and preparatory discussions on the framework for a future relationship.

The President of the European Council is recommending to the other Member States conclusions to this effect and proposes guidelines for the negotiation of the transitional arrangements which will involve the UK staying in the Single Market and Customs Union without a voice.

As for the “future relationship”, it is proposed that this will be the subject of a later recommendation. In the meantime, preparatory internal discussions are to continue and the UK is called upon to clarify its intentions.  It is envisaged that the framework will be elaborated in a political declaration accompanying the Withdrawal Agreement.

A Joint report from the negotiators of the EU and the UK on progress during the first phase of the Article 50 negotiations was published today and is available here.

The report sets out the detail of the agreement in principle reached on the three main areas of the withdrawal negotiations on which sufficient progress was required:

  • Protecting the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU
  • A framework for addressing the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland
  • The financial settlement

The report also refers to progress on other separation issues such as the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom, ongoing judicial and administrative procedures, cooperation in civil and commercial matters and police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

 

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Brexit and Africa

As the UK calls time on its 44 year membership of the EU, repercussions are felt further afield. African countries which currently access the EU via the UK, such as Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, or have the UK as their main end market within the EU will be exposed when the UK ceases to be an EU Member State.

Read more of our analysis on how Africa will be impacted by Brexit, including risks and opportunities, here.

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EU releases notice for stakeholders to prepare for company law changes post-Brexit

The EU has released a Notice to Stakeholders that warns EU company law will no longer apply in the UK after Brexit. The main points it raises are:

  • UK incorporated companies will become third country companies and branches in EU-27 Member States of UK incorporated companies will become branches of third country companies
  • Member States may not be obliged to recognise the legal personality (and the protections that flow from it) of companies which are incorporated in the UK but have their central administration or principal place of business in the EU
  • EU law on disclosure, incorporation, capital maintenance and alteration, and cross-border mergers will no longer apply. However as these are currently enshrined in UK company law, there would be no change on exit unless and until those UK provisions are amended.
  • The UK business register will not be connected to the business registers interconnection system and the way information is obtained will be different.

If you think these company law changes may have consequences for your business, get in touch and we can guide you through these issues.

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New Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill introduced in UK Parliament

The UK Government introduced the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill, previously known as the Customs Bill, to Parliament yesterday, in order to provide for the creation of a standalone UK customs regime. Negotiations between the UK and the EU are still focused on withdrawal and have not yet moved onto trade.  However, this new Bill, once passed, will allow the UK Government to charge customs on specified goods and set preferential or additional duties in certain circumstances, e.g. to provide protection against unfair trade or to support developing countries by offering preferential treatment.  The Bill complements the Trade Bill which was introduced to Parliament on 7 November and which will put in place the necessary framework for an independent trade policy for the UK outside the EU.

Read the full news story here.

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UK Government announces new key Bill relating to Withdrawal Agreement

The UK Government has announced that a new Bill will be released which will, once passed, enshrine the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU into UK law. This new Bill will ensure that the major policy decisions made in the Withdrawal Agreement are scrutinised by parliament before being made UK law. Before this announcement it was unclear as to whether the Withdrawal Agreement would be made into UK law via secondary legislation using the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19. The Bill is expected to include major policy issues such as financial settlements, citizens’ rights and the implementation period.

Click here to read the full press release made by the UK Government regarding this new Bill.

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New Trade Bill published

The UK Government has published a new Trade Bill which aims to ensure that the UK has the necessary tools in place to operate its own trade policy once it leaves the EU.  The Bill includes provisions for the UK to implement existing EU trade agreements in order to provide continuity for businesses and consumers, by preserving the non-tariff elements of existing EU trade agreements to which the UK is currently party as an EU Member State.  It also provides for the UK to become an independent member of the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) which will continue to give UK businesses access to tenders for government contracts in 47 countries.  A new independent trade remedies body,  the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA), is being created to protect UK businesses from unfair trade practices such as dumping by other countries. The Bill will be complemented by a new Customs Bill, due to be published shortly, which will allow the Government to create a standalone customs regime and amend the VAT and excise regimes.

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Banks, Brexit and what’s next?

The global financial crisis in 2008 and the slump that followed were predicted to change the face of international banking, mark a retreat from globalism and result in much tighter regulation of institutions.

The last is undoubtedly true, particularly in the European Union, as this region still struggles to deal with an overhang of bad debt and ailing banks. Overall, however, the reality is that international financial activity, fuelled by technological advances, trade movements and the flows of capital produced by “quantitative easing” policies of central banks, has continued apace as the US economy has recovered and Asian banks have taken more international positions.

Will this change in the foreseeable future? What are the key drivers and, in particular, how will the UK’s decision to leave the EU – Brexit – affect the sector both in the UK, the rest of Europe and elsewhere?

As the EU’s avalanche of banking regulation continues a pace and the US talks about dismantling parts of Dodd-Frank, we question whether the overall impact will strengthen the EU’s financial centres or result in more banking activity elsewhere.  Continue reading

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The Brexit negotiations – the view from Brussels on developments in October

The Brexit debate often looks different viewed from Brussels rather than from London. It is however important for businesses to also keep in mind the Brussels perspective and therefore we publish a monthly view from our Brussels office on recent developments and the state of the negotiations.

In this second issue of ‘The view from Brussels’, we focus on the outcome of the recent European Council meeting and also take a closer look at the issues relating to the financial settlement, which is currently the main obstacle to progress in the first phase of the negotiations.

Click here to read ‘The view from Brussels – the Brexit negotiations – developments in October’.

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The UK’s relationship with Euratom: What next?

The decision to leave Euratom could, if adequate replacement measures are not put in place in time, have significant negative impacts on a range of sectors, including civil nuclear industry, research and medicine.

Together with Global Counsel we have written a paper which provides an overview of the legal and political background on the UK’s decision to leave Euratom and the UK’s future relationship with it. The paper also identifies some of the potential options for mitigating the impact on the UK and the rest of the EU. Lastly, the paper identifies the six next steps the UK should undertake if it is to minimise disruption from ‘Brexatom’.

View this paper here.

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