Brexit highlights—14 February 2020

Brexit highlights—14 February 2020

These Brexit highlights bring you a summary of the latest Brexit news and legislation updates from across a range of LexisNexis® practice areas, collated on 14 February 2020.

General Brexit headlines

This section contains key overarching Brexit news headlines.

Brexit Bulletin—Commission President comments on UK proposals for the future relationship

The President of the European Commission, Ursula van der Leyen, has given a speech to the European Parliament at the debate on the Commission’s proposal for a mandate for negotiations with the UK. President van der Leyen confirmed that the Commission's UK Task Force is ready to start the negotiations and commented on the future EU-UK trade model.

See: LNB News 11/02/2020 52.

Brexit next steps: The Court of Justice of the European Union and the UK

In this analysis, Sylvia de Mars, senior researcher in international affairs and defence at the House of Commons Library, explains what role the Court of Justice of the European Union will play in the UK during the post-Brexit transition period and beyond.

See News Analysis: Brexit next steps: The Court of Justice of the European Union and the UK.

BusinessEurope warns against Brexit ‘cliff edge’ in negotiation wish list

BusinessEurope, the continent’s federation of business associations, has called on the UK and the EU to ‘find pragmatic solutions that prevent a cliff edge by the end of 2020’ if the negotiations over the future relationship do not move quickly enough.

See News Analysis: BusinessEurope warns against Brexit ‘cliff edge’ in negotiation wish list.

European Parliament calls for a guaranteed level playing field between the UK and EU

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution which provides MEPs’ initial input to the upcoming EU-UK future relationship negotiations. MEPs agreed with the European Commission’s stance on ensuring there is a level playing field between the EU and UK in social, environmental, tax, State aid, consumer protection and climate matters post-Brexit. They propose that the UK government retains dynamic alignment with the EU if it wishes to benefit from quota and tariff free trade relations. The resolution also makes it clear that any EU-UK agreement must be conditional on an agreement regarding fisheries to protect the EU’s most sensitive sectors, which should be achieved by June 2020.

See: LNB News 12/02/2020 77.

Department for International Trade launches consultation on the global tariff

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has launched a consultation on the UK global tariff. The consultation aims to inform the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariff schedule, which will be the UK’s first independent tariff policy in 50 years after leaving the EU. The MFN tariff will enter into force on 1 January 2021 and will apply to all goods imported into the UK, unless a particular exemption applies. The consultation is seeking views on potential amendments to the Common External Tariff, specific products or commodity codes of importance to stakeholders and interactions with MFN tariffs. The consultation closes on 5 March 2020.

See: LNB News 12/02/2020 62.

Government releases guidance on UK trade remedies transition policy

The DIT has released guidance on how the Trade Remedies Investigations Directorate will carry out reviews into existing EU measures during the transition period. Until 31 December 2020, the EU will continue to carry out trade remedy investigations on behalf of the UK, and the UK will monitor any new trade remedy measures that the EU introduces during this period. If there is a known UK producer interest in any of the new measures, the DIT will reach out to the interested parties and assess whether the EU measures should be transposed into UK law or terminated at the end of the transition period.

See: LNB News 06/02/2020 64.

EU, UK to seek North Sea offshore wind co-operation in post-Brexit talks

EU and UK energy companies harnessing wind to produce power in the North Sea will see negotiators address the post-Brexit co-operation process in upcoming trade talks, a European Commission spokesperson said on 10 February 2020. The UK has been formally excluded from participating in meetings held by a group of EU countries, plus Norway, to boost the deployment of renewable energy in the North Sea, but it hopes to continue cooperating with these countries through other channels.

See News Analysis: EU, UK to seek North Sea offshore wind co-operation in post-Brexit talks.

UK notifies World Trade Organization of the implications of its EU withdrawal

The UK has notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of the implications of its withdrawal from the EU for both itself and other WTO members in a document sent to the WTO on 1 February 2020. In the document, the UK states that the transition period between its membership of the EU and its withdrawal provides continuity in the trading relationship between the UK, the EU and other WTO members. The UK also outlines that in 2020 it ‘will work to support efforts to strengthen the multilateral rules-based trading system, and to modernise the WTO’.

See: LNB News 06/02/2020 80.

Committee publishes twenty-first report scrutinising Brexit-related international agreements

The House of Lords European Union Committee (EUC) has published its twenty-first report scrutinising Brexit-related treaties and international agreements. The EUC has scrutinised the ‘rollover’ of international agreements the EU has previously agreed on the UK’s behalf. The latest report considered the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the Republic of Uzbekistan. This agreement seeks to replicate the terms of the EU-Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

See: LNB News 13/02/2020 7.

Brexit legislation updates

This section contains Brexit news headlines relating to Brexit-related primary legislation and legislative preparation for Brexit generally.

Retained EU law―a practical guide

Retained EU law is a legal term introduced into UK law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. It captures EU-derived rights and legislation the government intends to retain and preserve in UK law for legal continuity once the transitional arrangements under the Withdrawal Agreement come to an end. There is no specific list of retained EU law for lawyers to refer to. It is a matter of statutory interpretation. In this revisited analysis, Kieran Laird, partner and head of constitutional affairs at Gowling WLG, examines its meaning, scope and status, and provides essential tips for navigating and interpreting retained EU law.

See News Analysis: Retained EU law―a practical guide.

Draft Brexit SIs laid for sifting and sifting committee reports

Brexit SI Bulletin—latest drafts and sifting committee reports, 13 February 2020

The Commons European Statutory Instruments Committee (ESIC) and the Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (SLSC) are responsible for the sifting process under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (EU(W)A 2018). These committees scrutinise proposed negative Brexit SIs and make recommendations on the appropriate parliamentary procedure before the instruments are laid in Parliament. This bulletin outlines the latest updates and recommendations, collated on 13 February 2020. Since the general election on 12 December 2019, the SLSC has resumed routine scrutiny of secondary legislation, but the sifting process remains on pause.

See News Analysis: Brexit SI Bulletin—latest drafts and sifting committee reports, 13 February 2020.

Editor's picks—the practice area/sector view

This section contains key Brexit news hand-picked by Lexis®PSL lawyers from their own practice areas.

Banking and Finance

UK financial regulators to be questioned on Brexit impact on financial services

The House of Lords EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee has announced that it will hear evidence from the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) about financial services after Brexit on 12 February 2020. It is expected that the committee will question the preparedness of the UK’s financial services industry for the end of the transition period, the possible future UK-EU relationship in financial services and new UK financial regulations after Brexit.

See: LNB News 06/02/2020 116.

For further updates from Banking and Finance, see: Banking and Finance weekly highlights—overview.


Government plans to open ten freeports across the UK

The government has launched the Freeports Consultation on 10 February 2020. The consultation sets out government policies and objectives surrounding opening ten new innovative freeports across the UK. The consultation closes on 20 April 2020. Stakeholders are invited to submit their responses online through the Consultation Portal or mail them to Freeports Team, Area D, Floor 5, Department for International Trade, 3 Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2HP.

See: LNB News 11/02/2020 10.

Import controls to be introduced on goods between Great Britain and the EU

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, has confirmed plans which will introduce import controls on EU goods at the border between Great Britain and the EU, following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. The plans mean that customs declarations will have to be submitted and goods’ checks will be enforced. The plans were confirmed during a speech by the Chancellor at a Border Delivery Group stakeholder event, during which he also explained that all UK imports and exports will be treated the same. Following a deadline extension, businesses have until 31 January 2021 to apply for customs support funding.

See: LNB News 11/02/2020 9.

For further updates from Commercial, see: Commercial weekly highlights—overview.


Environment Bill 2020—analysis of the first reading

Ben Stansfield, Planning & Environment partner at Gowling WLG examines the key provisions of the Environment Bill 2020 following its first reading. Also discussed is the history of the bill and its future in Parliament.

See News Analysis: Environment Bill 2020—analysis of the first reading.

Chair of Environment Agency calls for legally binding targets

In a speech at the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum, Emma Howard Boyd, the Chair of the Environment Agency, has called for legally binding targets on air quality, water, waste reduction and nature recovery. Howard Boyd has lauded the full Environment Bill, published by Boris Johnson’s government, as a ‘transformative piece of legislation’, while also stressing that it should fulfil its intent to face the threats of flooding, drought and heatwaves across the country. Furthermore, she has stated that as the government assumes a new role following its exit from the EU, the standards it sets should not be decided unilaterally but rather with the inclusion of businesses, regulators, NGOs and the general public.

See: LNB News 07/02/2020 21.

Fisheries Bill to provide sustainable future for UK fishing industry

Lord Gardiner, Lords’ Minister, has led the Second Reading of the Fisheries Bill at the House of Lords on 11 February 2020. The government has announced that the new Fisheries Bill will provide the UK with legislation to become an independent coastal State outside the EU. The government has confirmed the Bill will provide the legal framework to implement an independent fisheries policy to manage the UK’s fisheries more responsively and responsibly. Additionally, the government has stated the new Fisheries Bill will provide a sustainable and profitable future for the UK’s fishing industry while securing the long term health of British fisheries.

See: LNB News 12/02/2020 11.

UK Ambassador to WTO and UN addresses negotiations on fisheries subsidies

The UK’s Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and UN in Geneva, Julian Braithwaite, has delivered a statement during the WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies. In his statement, Braithwaite declared that the UK’s fisheries and marine environment policies are ‘driven by sustainability’, noting new legislation recently presented by the government to Parliament, which introduces legal requirements to fish at sustainable levels. He also mentioned that the UK is ‘committed to working with all our coastal neighbours including in the European Union and Norway to manage shared stocks in a sustainable and scientifically sound manner’. Finally, Braithwaite highlights the UK’s support for the inclusion of Target 14.6 in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Target 14.6 would ‘prohibit certain subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity, and eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing’.

See: LNB News 06/02/2020 86.

Government guidance outlines procedure for reporting fluorinated gases

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), together with the Environment Agency (EA), has published two documents relating to fluorinated gases (F gas) and ozone depleting substances (ODS). In one document, Defra and the EA have provided guidance on how to comply with F gas and ODS regulations from 1 January 2021. In the other, the government bodies outlined how businesses can continue to trade and deal in F gases and ODS in the UK and EU during the transition period.

See: LNB News 06/02/2020 97.

For further updates from Environment, see: Environment weekly highlights—overview.

Financial Services

Carney evidence to HoL Economic Affairs Committee

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee heard evidence from the governor of the BoE, Mark Carney, on 11 February 2020, in his last annual session with the Committee. Carney was expected to discuss Brexit, sustainable finance and financial stability issues.

See: LNB News 10/02/2020 21.

BoE deputy governor considers the future UK/EU framework on the governance of the financial sector

The deputy governor for financial stability at the BoE, Jon Cunliffe, delivered a speech at the German Economic Council annual finance conference. He discusses, from the particular perspective of financial stability, how to build new arrangements for the governance of the financial sector between the EU and the UK. Cunliffe emphasises the EU’s need to access London’s global financial markets and sets out considerations for each side in agreeing a future framework.

See: LNB News 11/02/2020 58.

AFME publishes wording for post-Brexit selling restrictions for equity (EEA and UK)

The Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) published wording setting out the selling restrictions for equity transactions for use following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU until the end of the transitional period. The wording reflects the application of Regulation EU 2017/1129 on the prospectus to be published when securities are offered to the public or admitted to trading on a regulated market and repealing Directive 2003/71/EC (the Prospectus Regulation).

See: LNB News 12/02/2020 19.

UK eyes 'full range' access to EU financial services

The head of HM Treasury said that post-Brexit Britain and the EU will devise a ‘full range’ of assessments for aligning regulation of financial services by June 2020, but warned that equivalence will be granted only if rules are mutually compatible.

See News Analysis: UK eyes 'full range' access to EU financial services.

For further updates from Financial Services, see: Financial Services weekly highlights—overview.

Information Law

EU data-protection authorities to discuss cookie-consent guidelines in March

National data-protection authorities will discuss revised guidelines next month on how to enforce EU rules that require websites to ask users for consent for cookies that are used to track web activity, after several authorities adopted conflicting approaches, said an official at a group of data privacy enforcers.

See News Analysis: EU data-protection authorities to discuss cookie-consent guidelines in March.

UK may tweak privacy rules if EU data-transfer deal isn’t affected, UK parliamentarian says

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, who sits on the EU Committee in the House of Lords, has said that UK data-protection rules could be tweaked after Brexit if the government sees benefits and there is no impact on a data-transfer deal with the EU. On 3 February 2020, the Conservative-led UK government sent mixed signals over its intent for data protection as it launched its Brexit negotiations stance.

See News Analysis: UK may tweak privacy rules if EU data-transfer deal isn’t affected, UK parliamentarian says.

For further updates from Information Law, see: Information Law weekly highlights—overview.

Life Sciences

What does the UK's withdrawal from the EU mean for the life sciences sector?

Following the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, Sally Shorthouse, Partner at Bird & Bird discusses the impact of Brexit on the life sciences sector in the UK.

See News Analysis: What does the UK's withdrawal from the EU mean for the life sciences sector?

European pharmaceutical industry calls for close future EU-UK relationship

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, Medicines for Europe and the Association of the European Self-Care Industry have worked to support the EU and UK reach an agreement on future co-operation to enable patients across Europe and the UK to receive medicines and medical technologies without disruption. They also call on the EU and UK to retain as close a relationship as possible to support research, clinical trials, pharmacovigilance and access to talent after the transition period ends.

See: LNB News 11/02/2020 8.

For further updates from Life Sciences, see: Life Sciences weekly highlights—overview.

Local Government

Government contemplates new healthcare training standards post-Brexit

The Department of Health and Social Care is reviewing healthcare training standards for existing healthcare professionals as a result of the UK leaving the EU. The current standards, set by the EU, require 5,500 hours of training and a minimum of five years study for a person to qualify as a doctor, regardless of previous experience. The new system, currently under consideration, would allow for exiting qualifications, training and experience to be taken into account, making it faster and easier for healthcare professionals, such as physiotherapists and pharmacists, to train as doctors. This proposed new system could also accommodate training for those with caring or parenting responsibilities and will contribute to the government’s recruiting commitment, which aims to recruit 50,000 nurses and 6,000 GPs by 2025.

See: LNB News 10/02/2020 10.

For further updates from Local Government, see: Local Government weekly highlights—overview.

Private Client

EU Succession Regulation and Brexit

Michael Parkinson, Consultant at Payne Hicks Beach considers the impact of the UK’s departure from the EU on 31 January 2020 on the EU Succession Regulation and concludes that the latter remains as relevant as ever for individuals domiciled or living in the EU, as well as individuals with assets in the EU.

See News Analysis: EU Succession Regulation and Brexit.

For further updates from Private Client, see: Private Client weekly highlights—overview.

Public Law

Scottish Government holds Brexit uncertainty responsible for economic setbacks

According to the Scottish Government, the latest State of the Economy report has revealed that the Scottish economy was affected by slower growth in the year 2019 as a result of the uncertainty brought about by Brexit. Gary Gillespie, the Scottish Government’s chief economist, explains that uncertainty remains in the Scottish economy despite the removal of the imminent risk of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. He notes that growth and business investment, as well as Scotland’s labour market, have all been impacted negatively, as the country’s productivity in 2021 remains closely contingent on any future trade deals with the EU.

See: LNB News 14/02/2020 29.

Trade Agreements (Exclusion of National Health Services) Bill

The Trade Agreements (Exclusion of National Health Services) Bill (a Bill to exclude requirements relating to National Health Services procurement, delivery or commissioning from international trade agreements, and to require the consent of the House of Commons and the devolved legislatures to international trade agreements insofar as they relate to the National Health Services of England, Scotland and Wales and Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland) will have its second reading in the House of Commons on 26 June 2020.

See: LNB News 06/02/2020 14.

For further updates from Public Law, see: Public Law weekly highlights—overview.

Brexit content and quick links

For further updates, this section contains quick links to popular trackers and practical guidance content on Brexit:

For further updates, this section contains quick links to popular trackers and practical guidance content on Brexit:

● Brexit Bulletin—key updates, research tips and resources—this Brexit Bulletin provides a quick reference Brexit research aid and updating tool. It answers key questions on Brexit and includes helpful Brexit updates, research tips and resources

● Brexit legislation tracker—this Practice Note tracks the progress of UK legislation introduced in connection with Brexit. It includes a Brexit SI database collating details of draft and enacted Brexit SIs, as well as draft Brexit SIs laid for sifting

● Brexit toolkit—for ease of reference, this toolkit collates practical guidance on the specific legal and practical implications of Brexit across a range of practice areas. The Brexit toolkit brings all of the core content together for ease of reference and also provides essential background information, trackers and analysis on the process of withdrawing from the EU and negotiating new trade relationships with the EU and third countries

LexTalk®Brexit: a Lexis®PSL community

Collaborate and network with a community of expert lawyers

LexTalk® is an online community forum which gives Lexis®PSL subscribers the opportunity to post questions, hold conversations, participate in discussions and share best practice. It has been designed to provide a secure place for legal professionals to discuss legal developments, offer and receive peer support, and gain a sense of up to date market practice and advances in real-time. You can access and post questions on all of the dedicated practice area forums, including a dedicated forum for Brexit-related discussion, for users to discuss queries and sense check issues and solutions as they arise day-to-day.

Click here to sign up and meet like-minded community members, create a profile, connect, share, and start participating today! Alternatively, you can access LexTalk® on the key resources tab on your Practice Area home page.

Useful information

Here is a sample of recent Brexit journal articles available subject to subscription:

● Freedom of Information: Brexit and GDPR: In this article, Ibrahim Hasan outlines the landscape of post-Brexit data protection, and in particular the place of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). See: Law Society Gazette (2020) LS Gaz, 10 Feb, 27

● The impact of Brexit on workers’ rights: In this article, Amanda Robinson and David Wolchover argue that workers' rights are at risk and address some concerns about post-Brexit deregulation. See: New Law Journal: 170 NLJ 7874, p12

● Senior Managers Regime: Crash Landing: In this article, Marialuisa Taddia paints a critical picture of the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR), stressing the difficulties in predicting its enforcement, not least because of the looming Brexit shadow. See: Law Society Gazette (2020) LS Gaz, 10 Feb, 18

● Tax and the City review for February: In this article, Mike Lane and Zoe Andrews comment on how the ‘business as usual’ transition period is likely to unfold in light of the government’s ambitions and priorities for the fisheries and financial services sectors. See: Tax Journal, Issue 1475, 18

● Digital tax reform and the challenges facing policy makers: In this article, David Gauke, drawing on his experience as minister for tax, provides an insight into the trade-offs in government policy as these recently surfaced in the digital tax reform debate and the wider Brexit discussions. See: Tax Journal, Issue 1475, 8

Please feel free to contact the Lexis®PSL team with your comments, queries or suggestions: Contact us.

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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.