Saturday, 26 December 2020

The Draft EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: What We Know So Far

Jane Lambert

The European Commission has just published the full text of the draft EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement on its website.  Accompanying that draft are a draft EU-UK Security of Information Agreement, a draft EU-UK Civil Nuclear Agreement and draft EU-UK Declarations. Also worth reading are the Commission's press release of 24 Dec 2020, a Q & A on the draft agreement and a checklist entitled Big changes compared to benefits of EU membership which can be downloaded here.  On Christmas Day, the British government published a 34-page summary of the agreement and a statement from the Prime Minister.

.To understand the agreement it is necessary to refer to art 50 (2) of the Treaty of European Union:

"A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union."

The agreement that set out the arrangements for withdrawal was, of course, the Withdrawal Agreement (Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community). It was concluded in January and implemented by the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020

Some of the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement such as those governing the transitional or implementation period in which EU law continues to apply to the UK will lapse at 23:00 on 31 Dec 2020.  Other provisions such as those governing intellectual property or Northern Ireland will continue indefinitely.  The framework for the UK's future relationship with the EU was the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and theUnited Kingdom ("the Political Declaration"). The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement is intended to govern the UK's relationship with the EU from the end of the implementation period at 23:00 on 31 Dec 2020 in accordance with the Political Declaration.

The draft trade and cooperation agreement is 1,246 pages long and consists of the body and a very large number of annexes.   The body is just under 400 pages long and is divided into 7 Parts subdivided into Titles and in some cases further divided into chapters.  The remaining pages are the annexes.

The structure of the body is as follows:

  • Part One: common and institutional provisions in the Agreement; 
  • Part Two: trade and other economic aspects of the relationship, such as aviation, energy, road transport, and social security; 
  • Part Three: cooperation on law enforcement and criminal justice; 
  • Part Four:  thematic issues, notably health collaboration; 
  • Part Five: participation in EU Programmes,
  • Part Six: dispute settlement; 
  • Part Seven: final provisions.
The most important economic provisions appear to be in Part Two. Title 1 of Part 2 covers trade in goods and Title II trade in services.  Services that are covered in this title include telecoms, financial services and legal services.  Provision is also made in Part Two for digital trade, capital m movements and intellectual property.

Because of the sheer length of the document, it will take me some time to read and digest it.  Anyone wishing to discuss this article or brexit generally may call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact page.  I take this opportunity of wishing all my readers a happy New Year.

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