Today, the UK Government presented to Parliament its mandate for the negotiations on the future relationship with the EU. The mandate states that the parameters for the future relationship are set out in the UK/EU Political Declaration agreed in October 2019 and that a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (“CFTA”) should be at its core.

It is envisaged that: (a) any future CFTA agreed with the EU will be on the lines similar to the Canadian FTA (CETA), the EU/Japan Economic Partnership Agreement or the EU/South Korea FTA; (b) the CFTA should be supplemented by a range of other international agreements (these would cover fisheries, law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, transport, and energy); and (c) if it is not possible to reach a satisfactory agreement with the EU, then the trading relationship between the UK and EU will be similar to that between the EU and Australia (which is principally governed by WTO terms).

The UK Government has commented that there will be no extension of the current transition period beyond 31 December 2020, that it hopes to have a broad outline of an agreement finalised with the EU by September 2020, and that if by June 2020 it looks unlikely that such an agreement will be reached between the two parties that it will focus its attention on domestic preparations for exiting the transition period smoothly.