Brexit Bulletin—draft EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement published

Brexit Bulletin—draft EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement published

On 24 December 2020, the UK Government and the European Commission announced a deal in principle on the legal terms of the future UK-EU relationship. A copy of the draft Trade and Cooperation Agreement, agreed at negotiator level (to be ratified) has been published, along with a number of associated declarations and agreements including a separate Nuclear Cooperation Agreement and an Agreement on Security Procedures for Exchanging and Protecting Classified Information. Further analysis to follow.

Reminder: On 24 December 2020, the European Commission and UK Government announced an agreement in principle on the legal terms of the future UK-EU relationship. The new Trade and Cooperation Agreement includes terms on trade in goods and services, economic and social co-operation, law enforcement and security co-operation and governance. With just one week until the end of the Brexit transition period at 11 pm on 31 December 2020 (IP completion day), the announcement of an agreement came at the eleventh hour, leaving little time to put in place the necessary legal and practical arrangements to make the deal fully operational on 1 January 2021. UK and EU leaders are expected to endorse the agreement, but the deal cannot be ratified without the approval of the UK and EU Parliaments—a process which takes time. Arrangements are being made to recall the UK Parliament before IP completion day, but parliamentarians will need time to review the detail of the agreed terms. The EU Parliament is not expected to reconvene until January 2021, but the agreement may be applied on a provisional basis pending ratification in the new year. In the meantime, stakeholders are urged to monitor the official guidance and continue preparations based on the information available, as many of the significant and immediate changes anticipated at the end of the transition period will occur in any event on 1 January 2021.

For background reading, see: Brexit Bulletin—UK and EU announce new Trade and Cooperation Agreement, LNB News 24/12/2020 76.

What documentation is now available?

The following draft agreements and declarations have been published by the UK and the EU:

• Draft EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA): Trade and Cooperation Agreement Between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, of the one Part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, on the other Part

• Draft EU-UK Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA): Agreement Between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Atomic Energy Community for Cooperation on the Safe and Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy

• Draft EU-UK Security of Information Agreement (SIA): Agreement Between the European Union and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Concerning Security Procedures for Exchanging and Protecting Classified Information

• Draft EU-UK Joint declarations

The EU has also published a series of proposed Council Decisions approving the deal:

• Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the conclusion, on behalf of the Union, of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, of the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the other part, and of the Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning security procedures for exchanging and protecting classified information (COM/2020/856 final/2)

• Recommendation for a COUNCIL DECISION approving the conclusion, by the European Commission, of the Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Atomic Energy Community for Cooperation on the Safe and Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy and the conclusion, by the European Commission, on behalf of the European Atomic Energy Community, of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, of the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the other part (COM/2020/857 final/2)

• Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the signing, on behalf of the Union, and on provisional application of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, of the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the other part, and of the Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning security procedures for exchanging and protecting classified information (COM/2020/855 final/2)

What guidance is available?

The Commission has published a number of high level guides on the deal:

• Questions & Answers: EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement

• EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: A new relationship, with big changes - Brochure

• EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: A new relationship, with big changes - Overview of consequences and benefits

• EU-UK Relations: From the UK referendum to a new Trade and Cooperation Agreement - Infographic

• EU-UK Relations: From the UK referendum to a new Trade and Cooperation Agreement - Timeline

• EU-UK Relations: Big changes compared to benefits of EU membership—Checklist

The UK government has published a summary of the deal, plus an outline on the technical requirements for implementation of the NCA:

• UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement Summary

• Nuclear Cooperation Agreements: implementation guidelines for operators from 2021

Meanwhile, as the UK Parliament prepares to return to consider the deal and approve implementing legislation (see below), the House of Commons Library has also published a parliamentary briefing on the deal:

• The UK-EU trade and co-operation agreement: the path to the deal

The House of Lords also published a briefing on its role in the ratification process:

• Ratifying a deal with the EU: Role of the House of Lords

What’s next?

The UK and EU are making arrangements for approval, signature and ratification of the deal, in line with their respective rules and procedures, with a view to provisional application from 1 January 2021. The UK Parliament is being recalled on 30 December 2020 to review and approve the deal/implementing legislation. The European Parliament is not expected to reconvene before January 2021, but once the deal is endorsed by UK and EU leadership, and approved by the UK Parliament, the agreement is expected to apply on a provisional basis pending ratification.

Sources:

• GOV.UK—Agreements reached between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Union

• European Commission—The draft EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement

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About the author:
Holly joined LexisNexis in July 2014 and works primarily on the PSL Public Law module. Holly read law at university and qualified as a solicitor in private practice. Before starting her legal career, she gained experience working in local government and spent a year studying politics. Prior to joining LexisNexis, Holly worked in the Global Technology and Sourcing team at BP, supporting a variety of global procurement and compliance projects. Upon joining LexisPSL, she worked in the Commercial and LexisAsk teams before assisting with the development and launch of the PSL Public Law module. Holly looks after a number of core public law subject areas, including Brexit.