The key developments this month were the government’s introduction of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19 and publication of a joint UK-EU technical note on citizen’s rights.
European Union (Withdrawal) Bill
The government introduced the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19, formerly referred to as the Great Repeal Bill, to Parliament on 13 July. The Bill repeals the European Communities Act 1972 and ends the supremacy of European Union (EU) law after the day the UK withdraws from the EU, it also converts EU law into UK law so that the UK’s legislation retains a functioning statutory framework after exit day. Finally, the Bill creates powers that, where the government considers it necessary, allow ministers through secondary legislation to amend existing legislative provisions to ensure UK legislation functions appropriately, prevents or remedies breach of international treaty obligations and gives effect to the withdrawal negotiations.
The government also published a series of factsheets, including one on workers rights, to accompany the Bill.
EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit
Following the second round of Article 50 negotiations between the UK and the EU (17-20 July 2017), the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) and the European Commission published a joint technical note on citizens’ rights. The note sets out areas of convergence, areas of divergence and areas where further discussion or clarification is required.
Areas of divergence include the mechanism for individual enforcement of rights, the European Commission’s role in monitoring compliance and rights of family members who accompany or join an EU citizen in the UK after the date of withdrawal.
UK publication of three position papers
DExEU published three position papers in July outlining the UK’s position on:
- Judicial and administrative proceedings that are ongoing at the point of exit from the EU. The paper reaffirms the government’s position that leaving the EU will end the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the UK.
- Privileges and immunities as the UK negotiates its exit from, and new partnership with, the EU.
- Ownership and responsibility for special fissile material and related safeguards equipment. The paper sets out the UK’s high level negotiating principles, as well as more details on its proposals for, among other things, a UK nuclear safeguards regime that will meet the International Atomic Energy Agency’s standards.
UK competition law and policy
The Brexit Competition Law Working Group (BCLWG) published its final conclusions and recommendations on the implications of Brexit for UK competition law and policy towards the end of the month. The BCLWG’s overall view is that the interests of the UK economy, businesses and consumers will be best served by continuity of UK competition law and policy, so far as is possible following Brexit. It does not consider that Brexit gives cause for radical reform of the principal UK competition statutes, nor of the role of the UK competition authorities.
Earlier in the month, the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee issued a call for evidence on the impact of Brexit on UK competition policy. The inquiry will explore the opportunities and challenges of leaving the EU for antitrust rules, merger control and state aid, as well as considering the potential future relationship between UK and EU competition authorities. The deadline for submitting evidence is 15 September 2017.
EU data protection package
When the UK leaves the EU, it will no longer be bound by the EU’s data protection laws nor will it be a party to the EU-US Privacy Shield or the EU-US Umbrella Agreement. However, this does not mean that EU data protection rules can be ignored.
In mid-July, the House of Lords European Union Committee published a report that considers the impact of Brexit on the General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679), the Police and Criminal Justice Directive ((EU) 95/46/EC) Directive), the EU-US Privacy Shield and the EU-US Umbrella Agreement.
Among other things, the report recommends that the government should pursue “adequacy” decisions confirming that the UK’s data protection rules offer an equivalent standard of protection to that available within the EU and should put in place transitional arrangements to cover the gap between leaving the EU and obtaining adequacy decisions.
European Parliament reports on consumer protection, services and rights of establishment
At the beginning of July, the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection of the EU Parliament published reports on the consequences of Brexit for:
- Consumer protection. The paper examines the impact of Brexit on consumer protection under different scenarios, including future EEA membership for the UK and a relationship between the UK and EU27 governed only by WTO rules.
- Services and rights of establishment in the UK and EU27. The report starts from the premise that cross-border trade in services and establishment is largely dependent on mutual recognition, which only works when standards are similar. To make trade in services effective, a future EU-UK trade agreement should not only grant market access, but also find a mechanism to ensure and monitor common standards as condition for far-reaching rights to market access.