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International Agreements During The Implementation Period

The UK Government released a document which provides further information on the UK’s approach to international agreements during the implementation period.


1. The European Union (EU) has concluded a large number of international agreements with non-EU third countries. These agreements underpin the EU’s bilateral relationships with over 100 third countries that will have an interest in their continued proper functioning during the implementation period. These agreements cover a wide range of key policy areas including, for example, trade, nuclear cooperation and aviation.

2. The United Kingdom (UK) is currently bound by these third country agreements in its capacity as a Member State. Ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU, action is required to clarify the application of these agreements to the UK during the implementation period.

3. The UK proposes that these third country agreements which apply to the UK in its capacity as an EU Member State (as referred to at paragraph 15 of the EU’s negotiating directives of 29 January) should continue to apply to the UK in the same way for the duration of the implementation period. In other words, the UK would continue to be bound by the rights and obligations flowing from the agreements for this period. Multilateral agreements to which the EU is a party raise different considerations and are not covered by this note.

4. This proposal flows from the unique and time-limited nature of the implementation period. As the Prime Minister set out in her Florence speech, this implementation period would be based on the existing structure of EU rules and regulations. In its negotiating directives, the EU has adopted the same position. It has stated that “the Union acquis should apply to and in the United Kingdom [during the implementation period] as if it were a Member State”. This is echoed in the Commission’s paper on Transitional Arrangements in the Withdrawal Agreement, which states that EU law “shall be binding upon and applicable in the United Kingdom” during the implementation period.

5. Third country agreements are an important part of the EU acquis. This continuity in the UK-EU relationship during the implementation period therefore facilitates and confirms the UK’s continued participation in EU third country agreements for the duration of this period. Moreover, the UK position is that the existing agreements are capable of operating and continuing to function both as between the EU and the UK and between the EU/UK and the third country or countries in question for the duration of the implementation period. From the perspective of each third country the agreements would continue to operate as they do now.

6. The UK will be leaving the EU in March 2019 and will no longer be a Member State from this time. However, the UK view is that the best approach would be for the parties to confirm that, for the duration of the implementation period, these agreements continue to apply to the UK and that the UK is to be treated in the same way as EU Member States for the purposes of these agreements. This would be achieved by agreement of the parties to interpret relevant terms in these international agreements, such as “European Union” or “EU Member State”, to include the UK.

7. This approach is underpinned by international law and practice, including Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT), which provides that a treaty is to be interpreted in its context, which can include a subsequent agreement between the parties regarding its interpretation or application. The form of such an agreement under Article 31 VCLT is flexible and would be a matter for discussion. It would not be necessary, for
example, to deal individually with each EU treaty. The key requirement would be the clear agreement of the parties that the underlying treaty continued to apply to the UK during the implementation period.

8. Such an approach could be used both to ensure the UK’s continued participation in mixed EU third country agreements to which the UK is already a listed party, as well as the continued application to the UK of EU-only third country agreements for the duration of the implementation period. At present the UK as an EU Member State is bound by obligations, and benefits from the rights, on the EU side in the case of both EU-only and mixed
agreements. It is proposed, with the agreement of relevant third countries, that those rights and obligations continue to apply to the UK on the EU side of the agreements for the duration of the implementation period.

9. We believe that such an approach has a number of advantages and would ensure an orderly transition:
o It represents the simplest way of ensuring the continued application of these agreements during the implementation period.
o It would ensure continuing compliance by the EU and the UK with their international obligations which flow from the agreements.
o It preserves the integrity of the EU legal order by avoiding any problems created by replacing the underlying agreements with new bilateral agreements concluded by the UK.
o It would avoid the risk of disruption in the application of these agreements between the EU, UK and third countries.

Open letter to business on the Implementation Period

David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, Chancellor Philip Hammond, and Greg Clark, Business Secretary have written to businesses setting out the UK’s ambitions for an implementation period following Brexit.

In the joint letter, the three Cabinet Ministers outline the Government’s commitment to providing businesses with the certainty and clarity they need to plan ahead.

Dear business leaders,

The Government is determined to support businesses and the economy, and is committed to implementing the Government’s Industrial Strategy, building a Britain fit for the future. As this new year gets underway, we are also conscious that many businesses are examining the implications of our withdrawal from the EU for themselves and their supply chains. Businesses have been clear that they need time to adjust to the terms of our new relationship with the EU – and are therefore following closely negotiations on the Government’s proposal for a time-limited implementation period.

The purpose of such a period is to give people, businesses, and public services in the UK and across the EU the time they need to put in place the new arrangements that will be required to adjust to our future partnership. This is why, during the implementation period, we are clear that the UK’s and the EU’s access to one another’s markets should continue on current terms, meaning there will only be one set of changes at the end of the implementation period, as we move into our future partnership. The period’s duration will be strictly time-limited, and should be determined simply by how long it will take to make these changes – as the Prime Minister has previously set out, this will be around two years.

We know this proposal has been warmly welcomed by businesses up and down the country, and in the EU, promising the certainty and clarity needed to plan ahead. We are therefore pleased that at the December European Council, EU leaders endorsed this proposal, and agreed guidelines that will enable our teams to discuss and confirm at pace the detailed arrangements, giving them legal form in the Withdrawal Agreement.

David Davis – Teesport Speech

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Speech in Teesport by David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

Implementation Period – A Bridge to the Future Partnership between the UK & EU

Welcome everybody to tropical Teesport.

When the Cabinet meets next week and various of my colleagues moan about how cold it was in Davos I’ll suggest they try the North Sea in January.

Teesport – this is the export capital of England really. Teesport handles more than 40 million tonnes of cargo a year, importing and exporting goods that are used in sectors right across the economy. It acts as a gateway to the world for businesses not just in the North East, but also across the UK and Europe. And as we get on with the job of leaving the European Union — a move backed overwhelmingly by the people of Teesside — there will be new opportunities for ports like this, as you actually outlined in your speech, and for businesses like the ones in this room to cast their sights beyond Europe, to new markets around the whole world.

Today I want to talk specifically about the bridge that we plan to build, to smooth the path to our new relationship with the European Union after Brexit.

A strictly time limited implementation period, which forms a sound basis for the UK’s future prosperity. That allows us to grasp the benefits of Brexit by setting in place the fundamental building blocks for the country as we leave and a bridge that will give more certainty and clarity for ports like this, and businesses right across the United Kingdom and Europe.

A Deep and Special Partnership (Germany)

A deep and special partnership is a joint article by Philip Hammond and David Davis that appeared in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 10 January 2018.

Today (10 January 2018) we’re both in Germany to highlight the important relationship that exists between our countries.

It’s a relationship built on shared interests and shared values, that has helped both our nations prosper and grow.

And while the UK will leave the EU next year, we can still look to the future with a shared vision — one that sees Germany, Britain and the EU continue to thrive, and our relationship remain strong and close.

Trade between the UK and EU 27 is worth €750 billion a year — and a quarter of EU exports to Britain, worth €113 billion, come from Germany, more than any other EU country.

Of course we understand that Germany and other EU countries want to protect the integrity of the single market, and that without all the obligations of EU membership third countries cannot have all the benefits.

Those priorities are not inconsistent with ours — a deep and special partnership with our closest trading partners and allies.

Speech by Michel Barnier 09 January 2018

Speech by Michel Barnier at the Trends Manager of the Year 2017 event in Brussels

Prime Minister,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me in turn to wish you all the best for this new year.

2018 will be a decisive year for the negotiations that I am leading and for many of your businesses. Charles Michel is well aware of this and I would like to personally thank him, and his government, for his vigilant support and his personal confidence in these negotiations. I would also like to thank the Roularta group and the editors of Trends and Trends-Tendances for inviting me to speak here. And I’m happy to be doing so in Belgium, which has long had close commercial and political ties with the United Kingdom.

There was a time when England’s prosperity depended on the wool trade, particularly with Flanders. A reduction in the supply of English or Scottish wool yarn could threaten the jobs of thousands of Flemish artisans. And some centuries later, it was an Englishman, William Cockerill, who imported the first machines for spinning wool to Verviers, in 1799, and then the steam engine to Seraing, making Liège the starting point for the industrial revolution on the Continent.

Today the UK is still an important partner for your country, representing 7 % of Belgian trade in goods.

But, at the same time, 61 % of your trade is with the other Member States of the European Union. Almost 10 times more! What makes our European economies strong is the Single Market. The British know this well, since it was the main reason why they joined the EEC in 1972.