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Brexit: Latest Updates

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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.

MEPs agree resolution on future UK-EU relations

The European Parliament has agreed a resolution setting out its views for the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

The opinion of the European Parliament is important, as any withdrawal agreement and agreement on future relations between the EU and the UK will need to win the EU Parliament's approval.

The resolution suggests that, taking into account the UK's red lines (leaving the Single Market and Customs Union, and an end to ECJ jurisdiction in the UK), an association agreement could be an appropriate framework for future UK-EU relations, which it says should be based on four "pillars":

  • an FTA governing trade and economic relations
  • internal security
  • cooperation on foreign and defence policy and
  • thematic cooperation - e.g. research & innovation

The resolution insists that any new framework must include:

  • consistent governance
  • a strong dispute resolution mechanism
  • respect for the integrity of the internal market, customs union and four freedoms
  • no sector-by-sector approach (cherry-picking EU laws) and
  • preservation of the EU’s independent decision-making and legal order, including the role of the European Court of Justice.

The resolution reiterates the importance of securing equal and fair treatment for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU and that there should be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. It also calls on national authorities to ensure preparations are made that will allow "continued and safe access to medicines and medical devices for patients, including a secure and consistent supply of radioisotopes".

Full text of the EU Parliament's resolution.

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 publishes its position papers

The EU has published its position papers which will form the basis of its negotiations in the Brexit talks. The total number of published papers is fourteen. 

Included are papers on:

  • Intellectual property rights
  • Use of data and protection of information obtained before the withdrawal date
  • Customs related matters necessary for a orderly withdrawal
  • Public procurement
  • Guiding principles for dialogue on Ireland-Northern Ireland

View these and all the EU published position papers on the Article 50 Taskforce website.

Government publishes raft of proposals for future UK-EU relationship

The Government has also published a series of position papers setting out its thinking on the UK's future relationship with the EU. The papers include proposals on:

  • Citizens' rights
  • Future customs arrangements
  • The Northern Ireland-Ireland border
  • Enforcement and dispute resolution
  • Continuity in the availability of goods
  • Cross-border civil and judicial cooperation
  • Confidentiality and access to documents
  • Exchange and protection of personal data
  • Collaboration on science and innovation

The documents can be viewed on the website for the Department for Exiting the European Union.

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Collaboration is not for control freaks | Dr Charlotte Augst

21 / 3 / 2018 12.30am

Somerset Sustainability and Transformation Partnership has been collaborating with the Richmond Group of Charities and wider voluntary sector on a programme called ‘Doing the Right Thing’. Charlotte Augst shares what she’s learned so far about collaboration and leadership.

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