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Brexit: Latest Updates

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Structure for discussions on future EU-UK framework agreed

Both sides in the Brexit negotiations have agreed (7 May) a structure for handling the discussions on the future framework between the UK and the EU. The discussions have been taking place since the beginning of May and will continue until the next European Council Summit on 28 and 29 June, at which point progress will be assessed.

The discussions fall under four main areas:

  • Basis for cooperation - to include governance and dispute settlement
  • Economic partnership - to include customs, financial services and a mobility framework
  • Security partnership
  • Cross-cutting cooperation and standalone issues - to include data protection and an accord on science and innovation.

At the June 2018 summit, the EU expects the UK to present a solution to the question of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (one of the main outstanding issues in the Withdrawal Agreement) and some movement on what type of future customs arrangement the UK is seeking.

If enough progress hasn't been made on these two issues, the EU will likely extend the deadline to the Council Summit in Oct 2018, at which point agreement on both the terms of the UK's withdrawal and the framework for a future UK-EU relationship will need to be in place if they are to be ratified by both sides in time for Brexit day on 29 March 2019.

Read the full list of topics for discussion.

EU 27 guidelines on the framework for future post Brexit relations with the EU

On 23 March 2018, the European Council agreed guidelines for the next stage of negotiations between the UK and the EU on our future partnership.

The guidelines reiterate the EU’s intention to preserve the integrity of the Single Market and that there can be no “cherry-picking” of access to parts of it, and no sector by sector approach. However they also commit to seeking a balanced, ambitious and wide Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the UK and list the areas the agreement should address.

Among other things, the text refers to a framework for voluntary regulatory co-operation, which could go a long way towards meeting the Brexit Health Alliance’s “asks”, in particular regarding the supply chains for medicines and medical devices.

EU Commission publishes latest draft of legal text for Withdrawal Agreement

The EU Commission has published the latest of the draft legal text for the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK. The latest text makes clear where agreement has been reached and where further negotiations are needed.

The text translates into legal terms the Joint Report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on the progress achieved during phase 1 of the negotiations, published on 8 December 2017

The draft text covers six areas, including citizens' rights, the financial settlement, transitional arrangements and a protocol on Northern Ireland/the Republic of Ireland.

The Commission will first consult with Member States and the European Parliament concerning the draft text, before moving to negotiations with the UK.  

UK Prime Minister outlines vision for future UK-EU relationship

On 2 March, the UK Prime Minister delivered her much anticipated speech on how she sees the future relationship between the EU and the UK.

She said that there are five principles or "tests" which will underpin the negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship:

  • the agreement reached with the EU must respect the referendum
  • the new agreement with the EU must endure
  • it must protect people’s jobs and security
  • it must be consistent with the kind of country the UK wishes to be after exiting the EU and
  • it must strengthen the UK as a union of nations and peoples

The Prime Minister reiterated that existing trade models the EU has with other countries will not work for the UK and that she would seek "the broadest and deepest possible partnership" – covering more sectors and co-operating more fully than any free trade agreement currently in operation.

She laid out "five foundations" which she said, must underpin any future trading partnership:

  • any agreement will need reciprocal binding commitments to ensure fair and open competition
  • it will need an arbitration mechanism that is completely independent (no European Court of Justice oversight)
  • given the close relationship envisaged, the UK will need to have an ongoing dialogue with the EU (close cooperation between existing regulators)
  • an arrangement for data protection will need to be sought (an appropriate ongoing role for the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office) and
  • the links between the people of the EU and the UK must be maintained (new rules on immigration)

In her speech, she again confirmed that the UK would be leaving both the Single Market and the Customs Union and reiterated her commitment to no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Read the Prime Minister's speech in full.

EU Council agrees its negotiating directives for phase II of Brexit talks

The European Council has adopted supplementary guidelines for phase two of the Brexit negotiations, which will address transitional arrangements (read the EU Commission's draft text for transition arrangements, published on 7 Feb 2018), as well as the framework for the UK's future relationship with the European Union.

The guidelines set out that:

  • The transition period will be time-limited, lasting from Brexit day (29 March 2019) to 31 December 2020
  • During the transition period, the UK will continue to be bound by all existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union
  • As the UK will continue to participate in the customs union and the single market (with all four freedoms) during the transition period, it will continue to comply with EU trade policy, to apply EU customs tariffs and ensure all EU checks are being performed on the border. The UK will not become bound by international agreements in its own capacity in fields of competence of EU law, unless authorised to do so by the EU
  • The UK will become a third country on 29 March 2019, and as such, will no longer participate in the institutions and the decision-making of the EU
  • Commitments undertaken during the first phase of negotiations must be respected in full and translated into legal terms as quickly as possible
  • Work on finding a solution to the N. Ireland/Rep. of Ireland border, will continue as a separate strand of the phase 2 negotiations

Read the press statement from Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator.

EU and UK publish their position papers

Both the EU and the UK have published a series of position papers outlining how they think their future relationship should look post-Brexit. The EU position papers can be viewed on the Article 50 Taskforce website, while the position papers for the UK can be accessed on the website for the Department for Exiting the European Union.

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Microbes don’t need visas! The reality of Brexit and public health | Kate Ling

12 / 6 / 2018 11.30pm

Health threats pay no attention to international borders – tackling them effectively requires joined-up policies and action, writes Kate Ling.

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