Yet Another Busy Week in the Brave New World of Brexit

Brexit Tearing of Flags

On 28 February the EU27 produced a draft Withdrawal Agreement about which many have already written. Notably the UK had not previously produced its own draft (lawyers generally like to produce first drafts of documents as it gives control of the negotiation to them). To those of us unfortunate enough to live and breathe Brexit on a daily basis, there was little surprising contained within, and it merely reflected in legal form the principles contained in the December Joint Report.

In response to the draft agreement the key point of contention in the UK was the issue of the Irish border. Some slightly inflammatory language from the EU27 didn’t help calm choppy waters and led to accusations from some that the EU was seeking to “annex” Northern Ireland. Essentially the EU27 asserted the default of a “common regulatory area” between Northern Ireland and Ireland (i.e. Northern Ireland staying inside the Customs Union and Single Market) unless the UK could come up with a plausible alternative: either a very soft Brexit or the deployment of cutting-edge technology to eliminate the need for a hard border. Continue Reading

Updated Frequently Asked Questions for EEA staff and their family members

Brexit FAQFollowing the EU Commission’s draft Withdrawal Agreement published on 28 February 2018, we have updated our FAQ document for EEA nationals in the UK. This can be forwarded directly to your affected staff and is intended to answer their most immediate questions on Brexit. We will continue to update this as and when the situation develops.

If you have any immigration-related questions (on Brexit or otherwise), please contact Annabel Mace, partner and head of UK Business Immigration.

Making Brexit Work for the Chemical Industry

Chemicals & BrexitThe importance of the chemicals industry to the UK economy and the extent to which it is integrated into European markets, whether through trade, supply chains, regulation, or R&D, means that the UK government must deliver a Brexit that minimizes disruption and ensures the best possible outcomes for the sector. There has to be clarity as early as possible over what the trading relationship with the EU27 will be, with the emphasis on tariff-free access to the single market and no customs barriers. In regulatory terms, the industry needs continuity and consistency, and REACH in particular has to be a priority. And to continue to grow and compete globally, the sector must have access to skilled labour. “Making Brexit work for the Chemical Industry” has been published today by the Chemical Industries Association in partnership with Squire Patton Boggs, and is a guide about Brexit and the future for the chemicals industry.

Download the report here.

*This guide was produced in partnership with the Chemical Industries Association and includes contributions from Darren Warbuton, David Gordon, Anita Lloyd, Ken Huestebeck, Annabel Mace and Aline Doussin.

Europe Express about terms of Transition

“The representatives of the EU27 Member States yesterday adopted the negotiating directives for the transition period after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. They do not contain any surprises but are in line with the constitutional framework within which the Commission and the Council are acting.

The EU27 have formally proposed that there will be a “transition period” until 31 December 2020, which is (not coincidentally) the last day of the EU’s seven-year budget cycle. During this period the UK shall remain bound by the entirety of EU law (including changes enacted during this time) and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. It shall effectively be part of the single market and customs union, and free movement of people will continue. The UK shall not generally be represented in the EU’s institutions, bodies or agencies (except where “necessary and in the interest of the Union”), and shall no longer have UK Members sitting in the European Parliament. Continue Reading

CE Marking Post Brexit

The European Commission has published an important notice warning of the consequences that Brexit will have in the field of industrial products, which are subject to CE Marking requirements when placed on the European Union (EU) market. For those products, the European Commission confirmed that to demonstrate compliance with CE Marking requirements for products placed on the EU market from Brexit day on 19 March  2019, “economic operators are advised to take the necessary steps to ensure that, where the applicable conformity assessment procedures require the intervention of a Notified Body, they will hold certificates issued by an EU-27 Notified Body”. In practice, this means that, absent of any other arrangement, as from Brexit Day, companies that wish to continue placing products on the EU market and that previously relied on conformity assessments carried out by a UK Notified Body, will no longer be able to rely on those.

To read more, please visit the full article on our website.

Frequently Asked Questions for EEA Staff and Their Family Members

FAQFollowing the joint report published by the EU and the UK government on 8 December 2017 relating to progress during phase 1 of the Brexit negotiations, we have updated our FAQ document for EEA nationals in the UK. This can be forwarded directly to your affected staff and is intended to answer their most immediate questions on Brexit. We will continue to update this as and when the situation develops.

If you have any immigration-related questions (on Brexit or otherwise), please contact Annabel Mace, partner and head of UK Business Immigration.

UK Supreme Court Judgment Shows Relationship Between National Courts and the European Court of Justice

HM Revenue & Customs SignThe UK Supreme Court has today delivered its judgment in the long-running Littlewoods VAT case.

The facts are seemingly straightforward and achingly dull. Between 1973 and 2004, Littlewoods overpaid VAT to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in respect of commissions paid to its agents who distributed mail-order catalogues (common in the pre-online age).

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EU Withdrawal, the missing Bill

When Parliament returned from the conference recess, many observers assumed MPs would get down to the business of amending (and passing) the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.  It had passed second reading on 11 September, and will now need to be considered by a committee of the whole House.  This means all MPs will be able to contribute to a debate on its clauses, and to propose and vote on amendments to its content.

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The Prime Minister’s message to EU citizens in the UK – where are we now?

Brexit Tearing of FlagsTheresa May has today sent an email to EU citizens with the intention of demonstrating that their rights are her ‘first priority’. It doesn’t tell us much more than we knew from the Brexit negotiations at the end of September.

Since the referendum, the UK Government has issued various assurances about EU citizens’ future in the UK (largely with little substance) alongside regular allegations and denials of their treatment as ‘bargaining chips’. Yet it was not until‎ the end of June this year that it published its detailed proposals for Safeguarding the Position of EU Citizens Living in the UK and UK Nationals Living in the EU. In broad terms, EU citizens in the UK with 5 years’ residence before an unspecified cut-off date will be able to apply for settled status, or temporary residence until they have been here for 5 years with the right to apply for settled status at that point.  This gave some certainty but the finer detail has since been the subject of protracted negotiations with the EU (alongside the issues of Ireland and financial settlement). A number of key points remain unresolved despite the Prime Minister’s assurance today that ‘we are in touching distance of agreement’. According to David Davis’ closing remarks at the end of the fifth round of negotiations in Brussels last week, outstanding issues include the right to bring in future family members; to export a range of benefits; to continue to enjoy the recognition of professional qualifications; to vote in local elections; to move within the EU 27 as a UK citizen; to leave for a prolonged period and retain a right to return. The Prime Minister’s message today is also silent on the unresolved issue of the ECJ’s future role in enforcing citizens’ rights.

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Proposed Import Arrangements Leave a Sour Taste for Exporters

Brexit takes us to Geneva

Some say that Brexit negotiations with third countries have not yet started. They are forgetting an important prerequisite. For the UK to control and negotiate its own commercial policy independently, the journey could only start in Geneva. Here is why …

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