UK Government releases new papers ahead of third round negotiations

Today the UK Government released two new position papers. The first paper outlines the UK’s proposals for the regulation of goods to ensure the availability of goods at the date of withdrawal, to avoid a potential cliff edge situation. This paper focuses on four key principles:

  1. Goods placed on the Single Market before exit should continue to circulate freely in the UK and the EU, without additional requirements or restrictions;
  2. Where businesses have undertaken compliance activities prior to exit, they should not be required to duplicate these activities;
  3. The agreement should facilitate the continued oversight of goods; and
  4. Where the goods are supplied with services, there should be no restriction to the provision of these services that could undermine the agreement on goods.

The UK Government hopes negotiations on this topic will assist in moving towards a future trade agreement with the EU.

The second paper released today addresses issues of confidentiality, particularly the confidentiality of documents and information obtained by the UK and the EU pre-withdrawal.

A third round of negotiations between the EU and UK are due to commence next week. The Government also released a news story on the two position papers, which can be viewed here.

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Filed under Article 50, Trade, UK-EU negotiations

Frictionless Trade? UK-EU Customs Relations Post-Brexit

On 15 and 16 August 2017 the UK Government published two papers setting out its proposals for UK-EU customs relations post-Brexit.  The papers represent an important step forward as they set out the greatest detail to date as to the Government’s thinking in this area.

Next Steps for Businesses

As we explain in our briefing, the Government papers indicate the possible direction of travel but not the final destination, as the proposals are partial and raise significant questions in practice.  There remains ample opportunity for businesses to seek to influence the debate and it would be prudent for businesses to study carefully the proposals in light of their own particular circumstances. Submissions should be made to

The Government Papers and the Ongoing UK-EU Brexit Negotiations

The first of the two papers is a “future partnership paper” on UK-EU future customs arrangements, which sets out the Government’s proposals for UK-EU customs relations and calls for stakeholder input.  The second paper is a “position paper” specifically in relation to Northern Ireland-Ireland border arrangements, which covers a number of aspects, including the movement of goods across the Northern Ireland-Ireland border, and which overlaps and builds upon the groundwork in the UK-EU future customs arrangements paper.

The different status of the two papers is linked to the phasing of the ongoing UK-EU Brexit negotiations that remain currently at the first phase of discussing “exit issues”, of which the Northern Ireland-Ireland border arrangements is one.  The EU has required that sufficient progress is made in relation to these exit issues before the Brexit negotiations can move on to discussing the framework for a future relationship, including UK-EU customs arrangements.  In publishing these two papers essentially together, the UK is attempting to move the debate forward by demonstrating that these issues are to an extent interlinked – the Northern Ireland-Ireland border arrangements exit issue may depend on the future UK-EU trade relationship.

In addition and importantly, the focus for the discussion in both papers concerns those elements of customs controls that relate to customs duties and their administration.  With the exception of sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) for agri-food products, which are mentioned in the Northern Ireland-Ireland border arrangements paper, these papers do not address in any detail the compliance of products with technical standards.  While this issue arises in relation to all sorts of different product sectors, it is particularly sensitive for agri-food products, where checks take place primarily at the border.

In this briefing, we explain the practical implications of the proposals put forward by the Government and the challenges that these pose.

You can read our full briefing here.

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Northern Ireland and Ireland UK Government position paper released

Today the UK Government released a position paper setting out its proposals in relation to Northern Ireland and Ireland. Following on from negotiations with the EU in July, the UK Government’s paper addresses:

  • upholding the Belfast (‘Good Friday’) Agreement;
  • maintaining the Common Travel Area and associated rights;
  • avoiding a hard border for the movement of goods; and
  • aiming to preserve North-South and East-West cooperation, including on energy.

Alongside this, the Government has published two additional data papers with figures on trade and the movement of people available here.

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Filed under Energy, Trade, UK-EU negotiations

Future Customs Arrangement – UK Government makes its position clearer with policy paper

The UK Government has published the first position paper in a series. This paper outlines the UK Government’s proposals for a new customs arrangement that facilitates the freest and most frictionless trade possible in goods between the UK and the EU, while allowing the UK to forge new trade relationships with its partners in Europe and around the world. The paper Future Customs Arrangements includes two possible approaches for future customs arrangements between the UK and the EU, and includes proposals for a time limited ‘interim period’ transition to avoid a cliff-edge for businesses and individuals on both sides.

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Legislating for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was published by the Government in July 2017 and is the key piece of UK domestic legislation that will implement Brexit.

In this briefing, we explain the main features of the Withdrawal Bill, how it will impact on UK law and the important scope and interpretation issues that it raises. Continue reading

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Filed under Great Repeal Bill, Uncategorized


The post below was first published on our Public International Law blog.

On 2 August 2017, the UK Government published its response to the public consultation on the UK’s future legal framework for imposing and implementing sanctions after the UK’s exit from the European Union (see our previous blog post).

The response sets out detailed answers to questions raised during the consultation, outlining the proposed powers for the imposition of financial and trade restrictions and the designation of individuals, as well as the proposed procedures under which such powers will be exercised. The Queen’s Speech on 21 June 2017 confirmed the Government’s intention to introduce a Sanctions Bill during the current Parliamentary session (2017-2019), with further guidance promised on certain issues in due course.

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Filed under Public international law, Trade, Uncategorized


The status quo of the UK remaining in the EU’s internal energy market is highly unlikely. This report, in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group and Global Counsel analyses the implications for the UK and the EU27 to help business leaders understand and adapt to what comes next – being prepared for both the challenges and opportunities.

In this webinar the authors of the report explore:

  • The impact of the UK General Election on the Brexit energy negotiations
  • The key dynamics and drivers of the Brexit energy negotiation outcome;
  • The most significant Brexit risks and opportunities facing the UK energy market;
  • What role business can play in shaping the outcome of Brexit negotiations;
  • Possible longer term implications of Brexit for the UK and remaining EU energy sectors.


If you would like to view this webinar please contact Jane Webber.

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The post below was first published on our Public International Law blog.

Prior to the next round of Brexit negotiations, on 13 July 2017 the Government published a position paper on the privileges and immunities enjoyed by the EU institutions, agencies and representatives in the UK in the context of Brexit.

The paper recognises that, even after the UK's withdrawal from the EU scheduled for 2019, some EU institutions and agencies will remain in the UK. For some this will be temporary, while they wind down their activities. But the paper also acknowledges the expectation of a continued future EU presence in the UK, including for example in the form of an EU delegation.

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Three papers have been released by the UK Government, outlining how the UK will negotiate on the following issues:


Ongoing Union judicial and administrative proceedings

Nuclear materials and safeguards issues

Privileges and immunities


The Government also released a technical note on implementing the withdrawal agreement. This note focuses on the legal implementation of the UK withdrawal agreement into UK law.


A post on the Privileges and immunities paper can be found here.

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Filed under Energy, Great Repeal Bill, UK-EU negotiations


Today the UK Government released the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (the Repeal Bill), along with an official press release.

Explanatory notes, general information about the bill, delegatory powers' memorandum, and a guidance note for businesses and organisations were also made available.

We made submissions to the UK Government in response to their White Paper on the Repeal Bill on 29 June 2017.

The principal purpose of the Repeal Bill is to repeal the European Communities Act 1972, which gives effect and priority to EU law in the UK – thereby formally reasserting the sovereignty and independence of domestic law from the EU. This bill will also give temporary power to Government ministers to change laws that will not operate functionally after Brexit.

Herbert Smith Freehills will release a discussion paper on the Repeal Bill in due course.


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Filed under Great Repeal Bill, UK-EU negotiations