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The Prime Minister has given a statement urging the UK to prepare for there being no trade deal with the EU at the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 (IP completion day). The Prime Minister said that the EU had ‘refused to negotiate seriously’ on the comprehensive ‘Canada-style’ deal that the UK prefers and that an agreement was unlikely without a ‘fundamental change of approach’ from the EU. The Prime Minister’s statement followed the conclusion of the October European Council, during which EU leaders discussed progress in the key Brexit transition workstreams and confirmed the impasse, calling on the UK to make concessions towards an agreement. The Prime Minister said that the EU’s demands were ‘obviously unacceptable’ to the UK, particularly on fisheries, and that the UK should embrace the alternative (aka no deal outcome), with ‘complete confidence’. With ten weeks remaining until IP completion day, the Prime Minister indicated the UK’s willingness to continue negotiations on certain areas of cooperation and contingency planning, meanwhile the government would focus on the coronavirus (COVID-19) response.
With agreement on the future UK-EU relationship in doubt, full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement is critical. The fourth ordinary meeting of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee takes place on 19 October 2020. The meeting will include a stocktake on work in the Specialised Committees and updates on implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, as well as discussions on Joint Committee Decisions anticipated in preparation for the end of the transition period. The meeting will be the first since the EU’s letter of formal notice to the UK for breach of the Withdrawal Agreement, following the government’s refusal to withdraw the contentious provisions of the UK Internal Market Bill, which completed its Commons Stages in Parliament on 29 September 2020 before progressing to the House of Lords for further consideration. For details, see: Brexit Bulletin—Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee to meet after European Council as UK-EU negotiations continue, LNB News 14/10/2020 104.
Meanwhile, practitioners will have noticed an increase in the volume of Brexit SIs and Brexit transition guidance being introduced by the government. Not all of the guidance is new, but some guidance pages are being updated and refreshed as the preparations intensify. As revised Brexit notices and guidance documents are being issued, it is a good idea to bookmark the relevant guidance pages and check for updates, in particular:
• GOV.UK—Transition guidance and regulation
• European Commission—Getting ready for the end of the transition period
Having urged stakeholders to prepare for all possible outcomes at the end of the implementation period, the government is under pressure to provide more clarity and detailed guidance on key transition workstreams and the preparations required in all eventualities, in all parts of the UK, and on both sides of the UK/EU border, so that authorities, businesses and individuals can prepare in advance for changes taking effect on 1 January 2021. Preparation among traders is a key concern. For more information, see News Analysis: Traders’ lack of Brexit readiness a major concern, UK customs official warns.
We will continue to alert new and updated guidance as it is released.
Source: PM statement on negotiations with the EU: 16 October 2020
For further detail, see: LNB News 16/10/2020 82.
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