Friday 16 October 2020

UK-EU future negotiations / Constitution Committee Report on Internal Market Bill

The European Council met in Brussels on 15 October and has published its Conclusions regarding the future EU-UK relationship

Difficulties remain over the ‘level playing field', governance, and fisheries.(Please see the end of this post for links relating to these topics).

Council noted that the transition period will end on 31 October and expressed concern that progress on "key issues of interest to the Union is still not sufficient for an agreement to be reached."

Nonetheless, Council reaffirmed the EU's determination to have a "close as possible" partnership with the UK on the basis of negotiating directives of 25 February 2020. The Chief Negotiator (Mr Michel Barnier) wil, continue negotiations "in the coming weeks" and Council called on the UK to "make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible."

As regards the Internal Market Bill

tabled by the UK government, Council recalled that the Withdrawal Agreement and its Protocols must be fully and timely implemented.

The European Council called upon Member States, Union institutions and all stakeholders to step up their work on preparedness and readiness at all levels and for all outcomes, including that of no agreement, and invited the Commission, in particular, to give timely consideration to unilateral and time-limited contingency measures that are in the EUʼs interest.

A Statement by the EU Chief Negotiator was issued at a Press Conference following the Council meeting.  Mr Barnier said - "There has been genuine, good progress on a number of topics, as I explained at the European Council, and on which we see the prospect of agreement. We are almost in a position to draw up and flesh out this agreement.

There are a number of topics over which there remain not only question marks, but also points of difference. And there are three topics on which the gap is too wide at present.

In order for me to say now, at this moment, that there is a prospect of a deal, we need to change the outlook to head towards a deal, and for that we need progress. Progress on the question of the ‘level playing field', on the question of governance, and also on the question of fisheries. There is therefore a lot of work, a lot of work for us to focus on.

From tomorrow, I will be in discussions with my counterpart David Frost. As of Monday, we will be in London for the week – and if necessary the weekend as well – and the following week in Brussels. This is in any case what I have proposed to the British team, that we hold intensive negotiations in the little time that we have left in order to reach the agreement we hope for by the end of October. Not at any price, but the agreement that we hope for and of course that Europe's leaders hope for as well."

The UK's Negotiator (Lord David Frost) said on Twitter - "Disappointed by the #EUCO conclusions on UK/EU negotiations. Surprised EU is no longer committed to working "intensively" to reach a future partnership as agreed with @vonderleyen on 3 October. Also surprised by suggestion that to get an agreement all future moves must come from UK. It's an unusual approach to conducting a  negotiation. M @BorisJohnson will set out UK reactions and approach tomorrow in the light of his statement of 7 September."

Internal Market Bill:

The UK Internal Market Bill is due Second Reading in the House of Lords on 19 October.  On 16 October the Constitution Committee published a report on the Bill in which it is stated that - 'The United Kingdom Internal Market Bill is presented as an economic measure to replace the EU single market arrangements at the end of the Brexit transition period. Its effects go far wider than economic management. Given its implications for the devolution arrangements in the UK and the rule of law, it is a Bill of great constitutional significance. Its rule of law implications have received considerable attention, but the impact of the Bill on devolution is at least as significant and, outside the devolved nations, has been much less discussed.' The report is considered by Jeff King and Stephen Tierney in an article on the UK Constitutional Law Group blog


Nine rounds of negotiations up to 2 October - 9 rounds up to 2 October

Level playing field

House of Commons LIbrary Research Briefing - Level playing field

Institute for Government Explainer - Future relationship: level playing field


House of Commons Library Research Briefing - Governance


House of Commons Library Research Briefing October 2019 - Fisheries and Brexit

House of Commons Library Research Briefing 19 June 2020 - Fisheries

UK and EU 12 June 2020 - Fisheries fundamental hurdle in UK-EU negotiations, academic report finds - The report, Fisheries and Brexit, looks at the economic and political significance of the fishing industry for the UK and the EU

The Economist 23 July 2020 - How fisheries could sink a Brexit trade deal 

The Guardian 30 September 2020 - Britain offers EU fishing concession - Britain has offered a three-year transition period for European fishing fleets to allow them to prepare for the post-Brexit changes as part of an 11th-hour deal sweetener. The catches of EU fishermen would be “phased down” between 2021 and 2024 to offer time for European coastal communities to adapt to the changes.

UK government 30 September - UK and Norway sign historic fisheries agreement - "The agreement demonstrates the shared will of the UK and Norway to cooperate as independent coastal states and seek effective and sustainable management of their fisheries. The treaty incorporates the same principles that the UK is currently seeking with the EU – a framework agreement which reflects the UK’s and Norway’s rights under international law. 

Fishing daily 3 October 2020 - Round Nine of UK-EU Negotiations end


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