Hey @BorisJohnson and @Nigel_Farage, we just made Big Ben bong for you😉. Sound on. pic.twitter.com/6wnxYi9BOU— Led By Donkeys (@ByDonkeys) January 31, 2020
Some marked the UK's departure from the EU with countdowns and flag-waving. Others, such as "Led by Donkeys", protested. I attended a concert by the European Union Chamber Orchestra at St George's Hall in Bradford, As its name suggests, this is an orchestra made up of artists from 10 countries which is funded by the European Commission, It describes itself on its homepage as a "musical ambassador" for the European Union.
As I listened to the music I would not help reflecting on the smoothness with which brexit had been achieved. Thanks to the Agreement on the withdrawal of theUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Nothern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, the rules that have governed this country's relations with its nearest neighbours, closest allies and biggest market will continue to apply until the end of the year at least and in some respects beyond which gives businesses and individuals time to plan. However, I also reflected that achieving such continuity had been a close-run thing. The Agreement was signed only in the last few days of January and the legislation which implements it received royal assent only on 23 Jan 2020. For much of the period since the referendum, there was a very real danger that the rules governing the UK's relationship with the 27 remaining member states would simply cease to apply when it left the EU.
In the field of intellectual property, much of the way ahead has been charted by art 126 and Title IV of the withdrawal agreement as I explained in Intellectual Property Post Brexit 2 Feb 2020 and The Intellectual Property Provisions of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement 19 Nov 2018. However, some uncertainties remain. One is whether the Unified Patent Court Agreement will ever come into force and if it does whether the United Kingdom can remain a party to it. Another is whether the UK will accede to the Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters when Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters OJ L 351, 20.12.2012, p. 1–32 ceases to apply. One hopeful sign is that Iceland, Norway and Switzerland have agreed to support the UK's intent to accede (see the Ministry of Justice's News story Support for the UK’s intent to accede to the Lugano Convention 2007 28 Jan 2020). I discussed the mechanics of the settlement between the UK and the EU in The Revised Draft Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration 21 Oct 2019 and The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 30 Jan 2020).
Now that the UK has left the EU the focus changes from the terms of withdrawal to the future relationship. The European Commission has already begun to set out its stall with the President's speech to the London School of Economics (see The UK's Future Relationship with the EU - Ursula von der Leyen's Speech and Meeting with Johnson 9 Jan 2020). It has also published its position on a number of issues (see The UK's Future Relationship with the EU - The Commission sets out its Negotiating Position 17 Jan 2020). The Prime Minister is due to set out the UK's position today (see Rajeev Syal and others UK will refuse close alignment with EU rules, Johnson to say, Prime minister’s vision on future trading relationship will clash with that of EU leaders 2 Feb 2020 The Guardian/ The Observer).
To reflect the change of focus I have removed many of the links on this website to resources on the withdrawal agreement negotiations and inserted links to resources on the future relationship. Anyone wishing to discuss this article should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact page.