Key developments in June included the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 being given Royal Assent and the government’s publication of a UK proposal for an Ireland border backstop option in the withdrawal agreement.
European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 receives Royal Assent
The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (EUWA) received Royal Assent on 26 June 2018. The EUWA will establish the legislative framework for the UK’s scheduled withdrawal from the EU on 29 March 2019. It is now expected that the government will begin its legislative programme to amend primary and secondary legislation so that this functions on and after exit day under the EUWA. The government has estimated that around 800 pieces of secondary legislation will be required for this task.
On 28 June 2018, the House of Commons Exiting the European Union Committee published a report looking at Parliament’s role in relation to various Brexit-related matters, including the approval, ratification and implementation of the UK-EU withdrawal agreement. The report considers the relationship between the draft withdrawal agreement text on the post-Brexit transition period, which UK and EU negotiators have agreed in principle, and provisions in the EUWA.
European Council summit
At its summit on 28-29 June 2018, the European Council highlighted its concern that no substantial progress has yet been achieved on agreeing a backstop solution for Ireland/Northern Ireland. The UK government published a technical note on a temporary customs arrangement, which sets out the UK’s proposal for the customs element of the backstop option to avoiding a hard border in Ireland after the post-Brexit transition period, and includes suggested drafting for the UK-EU withdrawal agreement, at the start of June. The government’s technical note only sets out the UK’s proposal for the customs element of the backstop option. It does not address regulatory issues and the concept of “full alignment” with single market rules, which are arguably more contentious.
The European Council did however welcome progress on other aspects of the legal text of the withdrawal agreement. Earlier in the month, the UK and EU negotiators published a joint statement recording the progress made since the publication on 19 March 2018 of the draft withdrawal agreement. The joint statement includes the agreed text of some of the articles in part three of the draft withdrawal agreement (separation provisions) that were previously outstanding but are now agreed.
Technical notes on data protection and judicial co-operation
In early June, the UK negotiating team published several technical notes for discussion with the EU to inform the development of the future framework, including:
- Benefits of new data protection agreement between the EU and the UK. This note argues that a legally-binding data protection agreement between the EU and the UK will bring several important benefits to the EU, including improved legal certainty, stability and transparency, and better cooperation on enforcement and investigations for EU citizens.
- A presentation on a proposed framework for the UK-EU partnership in relation to civil judicial cooperation.