Except for the misleading and mischievous inference in paragraph 2 that the UK was somehow less than economically and politically independent while it was one of the most powerful and influential EU member states and the reference to a non-existent agreement between the EU and Australia in paragraph 7, the policy statement entitled The Future Relationship with the EU the UK’s Approach to Negotiations CP 211 is considerably less confrontational and better thought through than many of the documents emanating from our side than in the negotiations for the withdrawal agreement. It is, of course, very different in form from the European Council's Decision authorising the opening of negotiations with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for a new partnership agreement. A Council Decision is a legal instrument that binds the European Commission's negotiating team. A policy statement binds nobody though a departure from its terms might have political consequences.
The policy statement proposes a comprehensive free trade agreement consisting of 33 chapters:
- Chapter 1: General Definitions and Initial Provisions
- Chapter 2: National Treatment and Market Access for Goods
- Chapter 3: Rules of Origin
- Chapter 4: Trade Remedies
- Chapter 5: Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
- Chapter 6: Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures
- Chapter 7: Customs and Trade Facilitation (CTF)
- Chapter 8: Cross-Border Trade in Services
- Chapter 9: Investment
- Chapter 10: Temporary Entry and Stay for Business Purposes
- Chapter 11: Domestic Regulation
- Chapter 12: Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications
- Chapter 13: Telecommunications Services
- Chapter 14: Delivery Services
- Chapter 15: Audio-Visual Services
- Chapter 16: Financial Services
- Chapter 17: Digital
- Chapter 18: Capital Movements, Payments and Transfers
- Chapter 19: International Road Transport
- Chapter 20: Subsidies
- Chapter 21: Competition Policy
- Chapter 22: State Owned Enterprises, Enterprises Granted Special Rights or Privileges and Designated Monopolies
- Chapter 23: Intellectual Property
- Chapter 24: Good Regulatory Practice and Regulatory Cooperation
- Chapter 25: Trade and Sustainable Development
- Chapter 26: Trade and Labour
- Chapter 27: Trade and Environment
- Chapter 28: Tax
- Chapters 29-31: Administrative Provisions, Transparency, and Exceptions
- Chapter 32: Managing the Agreement
- Chapter 33: Final Provisions.
Some of the issues raised by the policy statement will be less controversial than others. For instance, I can see no discernible difference between HM government's position on intellectual property than the Council's. On the other hand, there is a difference in approach to competition policy, particularly in relation to state aid.
The British government suggests separate agreements in relation to fishing, aviation, energy, mobility and social security coordination, continued participation in certain EU programmes such as Erasmus and Horizon, nuclear cooperation, law enforcement and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration, the security of information and other matters.
The paper also addresses technical and other processes beyond the scope of the future relationship negotiations such as third country listing and similar procedures for animals, plants and foodstuffs, data adequacy, equivalence in financial services and civil judicial cooperation. I am heartened by the government's aspiration to contract to the Lugano Convention which would effectively continue the arrangements under the Brussels Convention.
Anyone wishing to discuss this article or the future relationship negotiations, in general, should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.