The key developments this month were the formal start of Brexit negotiations and the publication of several Brexit-related Bills in the 2017 Queen’s Speech.
Brexit negotiations begin
Michel Barnier, the EU Chief Negotiator, and David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, launched the first round of Brexit negotiations on 19 June.
During the first round, among other things, the negotiators:
- Reached agreement on dates, organisation and priorities for the negotiations.
- Reached agreement on the structure of negotiations.
- Confirmed that the UK will leave the Customs Union and the Single Market, which means that there will be no “soft Brexit”.
At the end of June, the European Commission published six position papers that it had sent to the EU27 for discussion by the Council Working Party (Article 50). The position papers cover the following topics:
- Ongoing Union Judicial and Administrative Procedures.
- Judicial Co-operation in Civil and Commercial Matters.
- Goods placed on the Market under Union law before the withdrawal date.
- Issues relating to the Functioning of the Union Institutions, Agencies and Bodies.
- Ongoing Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal matters.
The position papers were prepared by the Commission’s Taskforce on Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom. The Article 50 Taskforce is responsible for co-ordinating the Commission’s work on all strategic, operational, legal and financial issues related to the Brexit negotiations.
Queen’s Speech 2017
The Queen’s Speech was delivered on 21 June. It set out details of the legislation that the government intends to carry over into, or introduce in, the 2017-19 Parliamentary session. It included several Brexit-related Bills:
- Repeal Bill (previously known as the Great Repeal Bill).
- Customs Bill.
- Trade Bill.
- Immigration Bill.
- Fisheries Bill.
- Agriculture Bill.
- Nuclear Safeguards Bill.
- International Sanctions Bill.
Legislating for Brexit
On 23 June 2017, the Bar Council’s Brexit Working Group published the third edition of “The Brexit Papers” to help the government assess the most pressing legal concerns arising from the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU. The Brexit Papers now include the Bar Council’s recommendations on the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), dispute resolution, product standards, acquired rights, public procurement, the World Trade Organisation, environmental law, fisheries and agriculture.
Towards the end of the month, the Institute for Government (IFG) published an analysis paper on Brexit and the CJEU, which sets out the key questions and trade-offs for the UK government as it begins to legislate for a new relationship with the CJEU after Brexit. The IFG’s paper argues that ministers have left fundamental questions unanswered on the status of European Court decisions after the UK leaves the European Union and that Parliament must clarify the future of the UK’s legal system after Brexit.
Linklaters LLP and the International Regulatory Strategy Group (IRSG) published a report on the Great Repeal Bill on 27 June. The report aims to provide the UK government with a clear and comprehensive methodology, which maximises certainty and ensures a functioning legal system across all sectors. The report’s recommendations for the UK government include:
- Setting continuity, certainty, timeliness, simplicity and consistency as its overarching objectives.
- Adopting the eight guiding principles set out in the report.
- Adopting a plan to promote the accessibility of accurate legal texts that will apply in the UK after Brexit.
EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit
The Government set out its plans for EU citizens living in the UK after it leaves the EU at the end of June. In the expectation of reciprocal arrangements for UK nationals resident in the EU, it proposes that, among other things, qualifying EU citizens resident in the UK before the exit will be able to apply for residence status under a new scheme and will also be granted indefinite leave to remain (settlement) under existing rules.