Thursday, 9 January 2020

The UK's Future Relationship with the EU - Ursula von der Leyen's Speech and Meeting with Johnson

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Jane Lambert

If the draft agreement on the terms of the UK's departure from the European Union is ratified, that country will cease to be a member state of the European Union at 23:00 on 31 Jan 2020.  The European treaties and legislation will continue to apply to the UK until 31 Dec 2020.  Thereafter a new relationship will subsist between the UK and the remaining member states.

The nature of that relationship will depend on negotiations between the British government and the Commission which can begin only after the UK leaves the EU. Some indication as to the parties' aspirations can be gleaned from President Ursula von der Leyen's speech at the London School of Economics on 8 Jan 2020 and the press release of her meeting with Mr Boris Johnson that took place later that day.

In her speech, President von der Leyen warned that any future relationship between the UK and EU cannot and will not be the same as before. She continued that it cannot and will not be as close as before
"because with every choice comes a consequence. With every decision comes a trade-off. Without the free movement of people, you cannot have the free movement of capital, goods and services. Without a level playing field on environment, labour, taxation and state aid, you cannot have the highest quality access to the world’s largest single market.  The more divergence there is, the more distant the partnership has to be."
The President added that without an extension of the transition period beyond 2020, agreement on every single aspect of the new partnership cannot be expected and that parties would have to prioritize. The EU's objectives will be to work for solutions that uphold the integrity of the EU, its single market and its customs union and on that, there can be no compromise.

The press release stated that the Prime Minister was ready to start negotiations on the future partnership and Canada-style FTA as soon as possible after 31 Jan.  That did not sound a million miles away from the President's position:
"But we are ready to design a new partnership with zero tariffs, zero quotas, zero dumping. A partnership that goes well beyond trade and is unprecedented in scope. Everything from climate action to data protection, fisheries to energy, transport to space, financial services to security. And we are ready to work day and night to get as much of this done within the timeframe we have."
For the rest of this year, this blog will monitor the negotiations for the UK's future partnership with the EU on the New Relationship Negotiations page as well as the progress of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill and negotiations for new trade agreements with the USA and other third countries.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or the consequences of the UK's withdrawal from the EU generally may call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during normal UK office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

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