On 12 July 2018, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom presented to Parliament a white paper containing the proposals of the UK government for the next phase of negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union on Brexit. The (98 page) white paper, ‘The Future Relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union’, consists of an Executive Summary, chapters on Economic partnership, Security partnership, Cross-cutting and other cooperation, Institutional arrangements, a Conclusion and next steps. In the proposals are some interesting ideas. Among these are the following:
Chapter 1, on Economic partnership, states: ‘At the core of the UK’s proposal is the establishment by the UK and the EU of a free trade area for goods’. Among other things, the Economic partnership would ‘establish a new free trade area and maintain a common rulebook for goods, including agri-food’, ‘new arrangements on financial services that preserve the mutual benefits of integrated markets and protect financial stability’, ‘end free movement, giving the UK back control over how many people come to live in the UK’, and ‘incorporate binding provisions related to open and fair competition, with a common rulebook for state aid, [and] cooperative arrangements on competition’.
The white paper states in particular: ‘The UK’s proposal is to agree a new FCA [Facilitated Customs Arrangement] with the EU. As if in a combined customs territory with the EU, the UK would apply the EU’s tariffs and trade policy for goods intended for the EU. The UK would also apply its own tariffs and trade policy for goods intended for consumption in the UK’. This FCA would require market surveillance, therefore ‘Following its withdrawal from the EU, the UK intends to maintain its robust programme of risk-based market surveillance to ensure that dangerous products do not reach consumers’. As concerns financial services, ‘the UK proposes that there should be reciprocal recognition of equivalence under all existing third country regimes, taking effect at the end of the implementation period. This reflects the reality that all relevant criteria, including continued supervisory cooperation, can readily be satisfied by both the UK and the EU’.
Under the proposals, ‘The UK would seek reciprocal arrangements that would allow UK nationals to visit the EU without a visa for short-term business reasons and equivalent arrangements for EU citizens coming to the UK. This would permit only paid work in limited and clearly defined circumstances, in line with the current business visa policy’. At the same time, ‘The UK proposes a UK-EU youth mobility scheme to ensure that young people can continue to enjoy the social, cultural and educational benefits of living in each other’s countries’.
In the field of competition, the UK proposals include ‘committing to high regulatory environmental standards’, ‘maintaining high standards on climate change’, ‘committing to high levels of social and employment protections’, and ‘committing to high levels of consumer protection’.
In Chapter 2, on Security partnership, the proposals argue that ‘The security partnership will be a core pillar of the future relationship between the UK and the EU. The UK and the EU share the objective of an ambitious future relationship which protects the safety and interests of EU and UK citizens’, and ‘The UK has worked closely with EU partners to make sure systems and infrastructure are in place to protect citizens within the UK, the EU and beyond from health threats that do not recognise borders. Maintaining the ability to act in a similar way in the future is key to protecting citizens’.
In Chapter 3, Cross-cutting and other cooperation, the UK proposals state that ‘While the UK will be leaving the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the UK is committed to working closely with Member States and other coastal states to ensure sustainable management of shared stocks and the wider marine environment’, and ‘The UK has long championed sustainable fishing and marine conservation and will continue to apply the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) principle’.
Chapter 4, on Institutional arrangements, states explicitly that ‘The EU institutions, including the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), will no longer have the power to make laws for the UK and the principles of direct effect and of the supremacy of EU law will no longer apply in the UK’. Also, ‘To set the strategic direction for the future relationship and make decisions at the highest level, a new Governing Body should be established. This would be a political body that would give leaders and ministers a forum in which they would:
- set the direction for the future relationship;
- discuss and determine if, how and when changes to the relationship were necessary; and
- provide transparency and accountability’.
In addition, ‘alongside the role that the UK legislatures will play in the implementation of the future relationship in the UK, a regular and formal dialogue between the UK Parliament and the European Parliament should be established’.
Maybe most important, the proposals state as concerns Northern Ireland:
‘Taken together, such a partnership [the Economic partnership] would see the UK and the EU meet their commitments to Northern Ireland and Ireland through the overall future relationship: preserving the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK; honouring the letter and the spirit of the Belfast (“Good Friday”) Agreement’, and: ‘These proposals are without prejudice to the Common Travel Area (CTA) arrangements between the UK and Ireland, and the Crown Dependencies. The CTA means that Irish citizens will continue to enjoy a special status in the UK, provided for by domestic legislation, distinct from the status of other EU nationals’.
The white paper on ‘The Future Relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union’ can be found at: https://www.gov.uk.