View from Brussels

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

December 2018

There appears to be a generally accepted view that the UK Parliament will reject the negotiated withdrawal deal comprising a legally binding Withdrawal Agreement and a Political Declaration on future relations – at least at the first vote expected on Tuesday 11 December.   While we do not seek to make predictions about a largely unpredictable process in ‘The View from Brussels’ series, this issue provides legal commentary on the various alternative ways forward in the event that the negotiated withdrawal deal is rejected.  The alternatives that are discussed in this briefing are: (i) seeking a renegotiation of the withdrawal deal (including to allow a second vote); (ii) delaying the date of Brexit; (iii) revocation of the notice to withdraw; (iv) withdrawal without an agreement; and (v) EEA membership.

September 2018

This issue of ‘The View from Brussels’ focuses on the relevance of WTO arguments in the negotiations. The UK has so far not deployed any serious arguments based on the obligations and constraints faced by the EU as a member of the WTO, either through lack of familiarity with WTO rules or fear that making WTO arguments would breach the obligation of sincere cooperation or otherwise poison the negotiations and reduce goodwill. Recent developments in the negotiations however have shown that the EU has no such compunctions and does know how to exploit WTO arguments in the negotiations. This briefing takes a closer look at the relevance of WTO arguments in the negotiations on the future relationship.

July 2018

On 12 July 2018 the UK government finally published its White Paper on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union including a proposal for the establishment of an economic partnership between the UK and the EU. At the core of this proposal is the establishment of a free trade area for goods which is intended to avoid friction at the border, preserve economic prosperity and allow commitments with respect to the border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the island of Ireland to be respected. It is accompanied by proposals for far-reaching cooperation in numerous areas (many of which will facilitate trade in services) and a new institutional framework. In this View from Brussels we review the proposed economic partnership and comment on the EU’s reaction to its various components so far.

June 2018

In this View from Brussels we comment on parallel developments that have taken place in the international arena.  Brexit will not only impact the trade relations between the UK and the EU.  It will also have important consequences for the trade relations of both the UK and the EU with third countries with which they are bound through numerous free trade agreements (“FTAs”) as well as the WTO Agreement.  This briefing considers the roll-over of existing free trade agreements and the disentangling of the UK from the EU membership of the WTO.

February 2018

The latest in our View from Brussels commentaries on the Brexit negotiations examines one of the contradictions in the EU’s negotiating position – the inconsistency between refusing to negotiate the future relationship until the UK has left the EU while insisting that the relationship of the EU with Northern Ireland be regulated in a legal text before Brexit occurs.

January 2018

In this issue we focus on the supplement to the negotiation guidelines adopted by the European Council on 29 January 2018, more particularly on the requirements for a standstill transition and on the issues raised by third country agreements. We also take a closer look at the “preparedness notices” issued by the EU by way of preparation for a possible hard Brexit. These are of interest not just for what they say about the EU view of the consequences of a no-deal scenario but also because they effectively constitute the starting point for the forthcoming negotiations.

November/December 2017

In this third issue, we focus on the move from phase 1 discussions to the second phase involving discussion of the future relationship and transition. We also look at developments in other areas of preparation for Brexit including in relation to the EU Emission Trading Scheme, Justice and Home Affairs, the WTO, relocation of Agencies and the approach to Financial Services and Aviation.

October 2017

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.

September 2017

This first monthly update looks at issues arising from the relationship between the transitional arrangements and the future relationship between the UK and the EU.