REUTERS | Stephen Hird

Brexit: November round-up

Two key Brexit-related Bills were introduced into Parliament in November: the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill 2017-19 and the Trade Bill 2017-2019. David Davis also announced that a Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill (which will implement into UK law the major policies in any withdrawal agreement agreed between the UK and the EU) will be brought forward once the UK has reached an agreement with the EU.

Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill 2017-19

One of the government’s key Brexit Bills, the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill 2017-19, was introduced into Parliament towards the end of November. Parts 1 and 2 of the Bill provide for a new standalone customs regime, which is largely based on existing EU law that is directly applicable in the UK. This legislative framework covers a “contingency scenario” in which no agreement is reached and also builds in flexibility to cater for the range of possible Brexit negotiated outcomes, including an implementation period.

Trade Bill 2017-2019

A new Brexit-related Trade Bill  was introduced into Parliament on 7 November. The government states that the Bill will, among other things, create powers to assist in the transition of over 40 existing trade agreements between the EU and other countries.

At the end of November, the Department for International Trade (DIT) launched a call for evidence to identify UK businesses with interests in existing EU trade remedy measures. The call for evidence is being made to ensure readiness for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU as the DIT prepares a new independent UK trade remedies framework. Trade remedies are currently an EU competence. Responses should be submitted by 12.00pm on 30 March 2018. The London Market Group (LMG) also published a paper with proposals for a future trading relationship between the EU and the UK. The main elements of the LMG’s proposals relate to a free trade agreement, a transition period and the withdrawal agreement.

Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill

On 13 November 2017, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, announced that a Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill will implement into UK law the major policies in any withdrawal agreement agreed between the UK and the EU. The government will bring forward this new Bill once the UK has reached an agreement with the EU. The government expects the Bill to cover the contents of the withdrawal agreement, which will include issues such as an agreement on citizens’ rights, any financial settlement and the details of an implementation period agreed between both sides.

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19

The House of Commons Procedure Committee published an interim report on scrutiny of delegated legislation under the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19 (EU Withdrawal Bill) in early November. The initial form of the EU Withdrawal Bill proposed to empower ministers to correct primary legislation by way of secondary legislation (known as a “Henry VIII power”) according to the (Parliamentary) negative resolution procedure. The committee’s interim report recognised “widespread concern” about scrutiny measures for such delegated legislation, which in its view “do not go far enough”.

On 17 November 2017, the House of Commons’ Exiting the European Union Committee (ExEU committee) published a report on the EU Withdrawal Bill. Among other things, the report noted that evidence the ExEU committee received revealed no consistent view as to the legislative scope or effects of the EU Withdrawal Bill. It perceives this as a sign of risk that the Bill may not achieve the legal certainty after exit day that it aims to.

Sixth round of Brexit negotiations

The sixth round of Article 50 negotiations between the UK and the EU were held over two days on 9-10 November 2017. The discussions focused on the three main withdrawal issues: citizens’ rights, the financial settlement and Northern Ireland/Ireland. The European Council will reassess the state of progress in the negotiations at its next meeting, which is scheduled for 14-15 December 2017.

Brexit and environmental standards

The Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, announced the government’s plans for a new, independent body for environmental standards in mid-November. Following Brexit, it will take over and improve on the role currently undertaken by the European Commission of holding the UK government and others to account. A new policy statement, which will draw on the EU’s current environmental principles, will set out the environmental principles that will underpin future UK policy-making and enforcement.

Brexit and UK competition policy

At the start of the month, the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee published written evidence provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to the inquiry on the impact of Brexit on UK competition policy in which BEIS explained that transitional arrangements for competition cases (antitrust and merger control) are being considered as part of EU exit negotiations.

Later in the month, the Sub-Committee published a letter from BEIS clarifying the estimated increased workload of the Competition and Markets Authority after leaving the EU, and written evidence from the Competition Appeal Tribunal on the impact of Brexit on UK competition policy. The most immediate impact is likely to be in the area of merger control.

Brexit and European company law

On 21 November, the European Commission published a notice to stakeholders on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU and EU rules on company law, which is intended to remind private parties of the legal repercussions that need to considered when the UK becomes a third country. The Commission states that as of the withdrawal date, the EU rules in the field of company law will no longer apply to the UK.

Practical Law In-house Robert Clay

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