Having reached the first anniversary of the UK’s Article 50 withdrawal notice (March 2018) the focus now turns to the second anniversary.
The first phase of Brexit ended in December 2017 with a report on phase 1 progress presented jointly by the EU and UK negotiators in December 2017. Article 50 obliges the EU to negotiate and conclude an agreement with the UK setting out the arrangements for withdrawal and taking account of the framework for its future relationship.
Now, in this second phase, the EU and the UK are seeking to negotiate the terms of that withdrawal agreement, with the target of agreeing it by the end of this year and with time for ratification by the UK, the European Parliament and the Council by 29th March 2019. The intervening months are already proving to be interesting times. In the current draft of the withdrawal agreement (published 19 March 2018) a range of sections are highlighted in green as representing positions agreed by the EU and UK, not least of which is a transition period to 31 December 2020. Significantly, during the transition it is agreed in principle that the UK may negotiate and sign new trade deals provided they do not take effect until after 2020.
Nevertheless, much remains to be decided and the picture is very much incomplete, particularly as to the relationship of the UK with the EU after 2020. The UK government has ruled out any “off the shelf” models for a trade deal and is looking for an ambitious free trade agreement, based on managed regulatory divergence. The absence of any one-size-fits-all approach confirms our recommendation that it is important to look at the issues on a sectoral basis. We expect to see clarity in some issues and sectors ahead of others.
Against this background, our sector experts are working closely with clients to advise on the legal considerations of Brexit for businesses and individuals and how best to manage their operations and investments in the short term within the current regulatory framework and beyond.
In the articles below we are endeavouring to provide insight, in-depth analysis and an overview on key issues and likely implications for some of the key UK sectors by our industry experts. We will continue to provide guidance and insight when relevant.