Brexit highlights—12 June 2020

Brexit highlights—12 June 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 12 June 2020.

General Brexit headlines

This section contains key overarching Brexit news headlines.

Brexit Bulletin—UK and EU schedule 'intensified' negotiations ahead of High Level (Video) Conference

The Prime Minister's Office has confirmed plans for a High Level Conference with EU leaders on 15 June 2020. The meeting between Prime Minister Boris Johnson, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Parliament President David Sassoli and European Council President Charles Michel will take place by video conference. Though expectations of a breakthrough are relatively low at this point, the conference is still a key milestone in the original transition schedule, providing an opportunity for leaders on both sides to take stock of progress in negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship and agree actions in preparation for the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. With negotiators hoping the conference might at least bring fresh impetus into the discussions, the UK and EU also announced a further programme of 'intensified' negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship, with talks due to take place every week from the week commencing 29 June 2020, until the week commencing 27 July 2020. The programme will involve a mix of formal negotiating rounds and smaller group sessions in London and Brussels (subject to public health guidelines). Tweeting in support of the announcement, UK Chief Negotiator David Frost reiterated the government’s position against extending the transition period, which he said ‘remains valid’. The deadline for agreeing any extension to the transition period is 1 July 2020. Meanwhile, focussing on the next round of talks, EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier also used Twitter to reiterate that the EU is sticking to its negotiating mandate: ‘We need to look to our long-term interests. Our mandate is sufficiently flexible to find compromises…there is no need for us to change or adjust it.’ Details of the additional talks are outlined in an Addendum to the original terms of reference for the future relationship negotiations.

See: LNB News 12/06/2020 63.

Brexit Bulletin—UK rules out transition extension at second meeting of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee

UK and EU delegations met by videoconference for the second meeting of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee on 12 June 2020. The Committee took stock of discussions in the Specialised Committees and discussed progress on implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, agreeing to accelerate its work. The UK delegation took the opportunity to restate that they will not seek an extension to the transition period. While the EU remains open to an extension, the UK delegation now views the matter to be closed.

See: LNB News 12/06/2020 77.

Brexit Bulletin—British border controls for imported EU goods to be introduced in stages

The Cabinet Office has confirmed that border controls for imported EU goods will be introduced in stages after IP completion day, in order to allow businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) more time to prepare. A £50m support package to boost the capacity of the customs intermediary sector has also been announced, bringing the total support package to £84m. The new border controls and procedures come as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, formally notified the EU that there will be no extension to the transition period. The plans apply to EU imports into Great Britain. They do not apply to trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, which is subject to separate rules to be implemented in accordance with the Northern Ireland Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement. Controls on imports from the UK into the EU are also a separate matter for determination by the EU.

See: LNB News 12/06/2020 61.

First meeting of the Specialised Committee on the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus

The UK and the EU held the first Specialised Committee meeting on the implementation of the Protocol on the UK's Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus on 9 June 2020, with EU and UK delegations convening via video conference. The Committee was established by Article 165 of the Withdrawal Agreement to facilitate the implementation and application of the Protocol relating to the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus. The EU and the UK reaffirmed their commitment to 'continued progress' in implementing the measures outlined in the Protocol, which come into effect on IP completion day.

See: LNB News 10/06/2020 46.

Brexit talks show scant progress ahead of leaders’ meeting, EU and UK negotiators say

Brexit talks have made no ‘significant progress’ on key issues such as fisheries, a level playing field, governance and guarantees on fundamental rights, the EU’s Chief Negotiator said as the fourth round of talks ended. Michel Barnier said he was expecting UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to reconfirm his commitment to ‘purposes and goals of the Political Declaration’ at a planned meeting with EU leaders later this month.

See News Analysis: Brexit talks show scant progress ahead of leaders’ meeting, EU and UK negotiators say.

EU ‘ready to find compromises’ on level playing field, but UK must also budge, Barnier says

The EU is prepared to find compromises on the level playing field, and there is sufficient flexibility in the bloc’s negotiating mandate for it to find common ground with the UK, the EU's Chief Negotiator said on 10 June 2020. But Boris Johnson's government must adhere to commitments it made in last year’s Political Declaration, Michel Barnier said.

See News Analysis: EU ‘ready to find compromises’ on level playing field, but UK must also budge, Barnier says.

Minister responds to Committee’s queries on level playing field debates

Minister for London and for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, Paul Scully has replied to Baroness Donaghy of the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee regarding the ‘Inquiry into UK–EU negotiations on the level playing field and State aid’. He has replied to Baroness Donaghy’s questions on union rules and legal autonomy, typical agreements and EU precedent, non-regression and enforcement for labour and environmental protections, emissions trading and the UK’s global leadership on environmental protection and climate change, and the UK’s approach to subsidy control.

See: LNB News 09/06/2020 77.

Committee examine draft UK-EU agreements

The Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union met virtually on 10 June 2020 to examine the draft future relationship agreements published during negotiations by the UK and EU. In the session, the Committee questioned policy, legal and customs experts on the contents of the proposals. The meeting follows from a private virtual meeting, held on Monday 8 June 2020, where the Committee met with Michel Barnier.

See: LNB News 08/06/2020 32.

UK and Japan begin negotiating Free Trade Agreement

The UK and Japan governments started negotiating a UK-Japan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on 9 June 2020.

See: LNB News 09/06/2020 45.

Brexit legislation updates

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

Brexit legislation—What has passed and what is yet to come?

The UK is currently in a transition period, having left the EU at the end of January 2020. Legislation is needed to ensure the UK has measures in place to replace key EU laws, when transition ends on 31 December 2020. In this analysis, Nikki Sutherland at the House of Commons Library highlights some of the key government legislation introduced, what has already been passed and what is left to pass.

See News Analysis: Brexit legislation—What has passed and what is yet to come?

Brexit SIs and sifting updates

This section contains updates on the latest final and draft Brexit SIs laid in Parliament, plus updates on proposed negative Brexit SIs laid for sifting.

Made Brexit SIs laid in Parliament

Cross-border Parcel Delivery Services (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020

SI 2020/583: This enactment is made in exercise of legislative powers under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 in preparation for IP completion day. This enactment amends one UK primary legislation in relation to Postal Services in order to address failures of retained EU law to operate effectively and other deficiencies arising from the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. It comes into force on IP completion day.

See: LNB News 11/06/2020 7.

Direct Payments to Farmers (Amendment) Regulations 2020

SI 2020/576: Amendments are made to the retained EU law governing the 2020 Direct Payment schemes for farmers. This EU law became domestic law at 11.00 pm on 31 January 2020 (exit day) further to the Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) Act 2020. The amendments in this instrument confirm the euro to sterling exchange rate for payments under these schemes. This instrument also addresses other operability issues arising from the UK’s exit from the EU that were not fully dealt with at the time. The amendments will enable the retained EU law to operate effectively in the UK for claim year 2020, with no ambiguity. These Regulations came into force on 8 June 2020.

See: LNB News 09/06/2020 55.

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.


Think tank fears lack of discussion on services in Brexit negotiations

UK in a Changing Europe has published a report stating that reduced access to the EU market will profoundly impact businesses across the country, as the services sector accounts for around 80% of the UK economy and exports are primarily to the EU. The initiative worries that there has been a lack of discussion about the services sector in the UK-EU trade negotiations. The think tank believes that even with a deal, services will suffer, as World Trade Organization rules are much weaker for services than they are for goods.

See: LNB News 04/06/2020 80.

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


Defra provides reassurances about pesticide regulation after IP completion day

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has provided reassurances regarding pesticide regulation after coverage from The Telegraph, Independent and BBC Farming Today on pesticides standards and new trade deals. The coverage follows a report from Pesticide Action Network UK and charity Sustain, claiming that post-Brexit trade deals could be ‘catastrophic’ for farmers. Defra has said that it will make its own decisions on pesticides, ‘ensuring [the] regulatory system is smart and efficient while continuing to deliver high standards of protection’ and making certain that pesticide regulation develops with scientific knowledge and is ‘robust and fit for purpose’.

See: LNB News 10/06/2020 52.

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

Financial Services

ECB concludes comprehensive assessment of UBS and Bank of America subsidiaries following Brexit relocation

The European Central Bank (ECB) issued a press release which sets out the results of a comprehensive assessment of UBS Europe SE and Bank of America Merrill Lynch International Designated Activity Company. Both banks were required to undergo the assessment following the relocation of business activity to the euro area from the UK after that country’s exit from the EU. The relocations led to both banks meeting the size criterion for being directly supervised by ECB Banking Supervision.

See: LNB News 08/06/2020 67.

Comment—financial services must brace for post-Brexit worst as fisheries talks falter

A blueprint for EU and UK financial services companies to access each other’s markets after Brexit looks increasingly unlikely to be agreed, given that talks on fisheries have stalled. That has much wider implications—for the finance industry as well as the overall negotiations on the future relationship.

See: Comment—financial services must brace for post-Brexit worst as fisheries talks falter.

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

Public Law

Constitution Committee warns that Brexit challenges have not disappeared during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution (Constitution Committee) has published a report on the continuing constitutional issues and legislative challenges of delivering Brexit. The Constitution Committee notes that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has ‘monopolised national and international attention’, but the issues surrounding Brexit remain and must be dealt with. The Constitution Committee has made recommendations in areas of delegated powers, devolution and departure from the Court of Justice of the European Union.

See: LNB News 01/01/0001 2618.

ESC issues tenth report on recent draft EU legislation

The European Scrutiny Committee (ESC) has published its tenth report of the 2019–21 Parliament, focusing on recent draft EU legislation. The ESC gauges the legal and political importance of each legislative document and, where appropriate, inquires further on its implications and/or recommends it for debate. Reasons identified as legally and/or politically important include implications for the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Northern Ireland Protocol; application during the transition period; relevance to the operation of the future EU-UK relationship; post-Brexit policy questions, future FTAs; and influence on UK's response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In the latest report, the ESC looks in particular at government plans for a UK-EU equivalence framework for organic products.

See: LNB News 10/06/2020 86.

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


Updates offered to firms moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has launched a questionnaire for businesses involved with the transfer of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Protocol, which will come into force following the implementation period (IP) completion day, will bring changes to the way goods move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. HMRC wishes to identify these businesses involved with trade movement in order to offer them the possibility to receive more information and updated guidance about the changes impacting them.

See: LNB News 11/06/2020 49.

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


Government announces future UK tech industry strategy to boost digital trade

The Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, has announced new measures to boost digital trade and make the UK ‘a global tech powerhouse’, following calls from the industry for support. It is hoped that the new measures will create and support jobs due to increased exports and international investment, as well as ensuring that the technology industry is able to take advantage of new Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). The measures hope to increase tech exports to fast-growing international markets, including Asia-Pacific, and will embrace the creation of a new Digital Trade Network there to support UK small and medium-sized enterprises break into the Asian market.

See: LNB News 10/06/2020 48.

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


LexTalk®Brexit: a Lexis®PSL community

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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:

● Ministerial powers 'inappropriate': In this article, Jan Miller highlights the House of Lords Constitution Committee report, ‘Brexit legislation: constitutional issues', ‘lambasting’ the government's use of delegated powers for 'executive convenience' in the EU(W)A 2018. See: New Law Journal 170 NLJ 7890, p4 (2)

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

We are also on Twitter—you can follow us: @LexisNexisUK.

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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.