The UK’s Approach to Negotiations


1. On 31 January 2020 the United Kingdom left the European Union and the Withdrawal Agreement concluded with the EU entered into force.

2. On 31 December 2020, at the end of the transition period provided for in that agreement, the UK will fully recover its economic and political independence. The UK will no longer be a part of the EU Single Market or the EU Customs Union.

3. Against that background, this paper sets out the UK’s approach to the negotiations with the EU that will begin shortly. It does not deal with issues relating to the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. Overall policy framework

4. The vision for the UK’s future relationship with the EU has already been set out, successively, in the manifesto on the basis of which the Government won the 12 December 2019 General Election, and, subsequently, in the Prime Minister’s speech in Greenwich on 3 February and his written Ministerial statement on the same day.

5. It is a vision of a relationship based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals, with both parties respecting one another’s legal autonomy and right to manage their own resources as they see fit. Whatever happens, the Government will not negotiate any arrangement in which the UK does not have control of its own laws and political life. That means that we will not agree to any obligations for our laws to be aligned with the EU’s, or for the EU’s institutions, including the Court of Justice, to have any jurisdiction in the UK.

6. The parameters for that future relationship are set out in the UK / EU Political Declaration of 17 October. As that Declaration makes clear, a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) should be at its core. This Agreement should be on the lines of the FTAs already agreed by the EU in recent years with Canada and with other friendly countries, and this paper sets out the structure and the policy content of such a CFTA in some detail. The CFTA should be supplemented by a range of other international agreements covering, principally, fisheries, law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, transport, and energy, and once again this paper sets out the content of such agreements in detail. All these agreements should have their own appropriate and precedented governance arrangements, with no role for the Court of Justice.

7. The Government will work hard to agree arrangements on these lines. However, if it is not possible to negotiate a satisfactory outcome, then the trading relationship with the EU will rest on the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement and will look similar to Australia’s.

8. The Government agrees that all the areas of policy set out in the Political Declaration will be relevant to the UK’s future cooperation with the EU. But the Government does not agree that that requires every area to be incorporated into a negotiated Treaty or similar arrangement. Many policy areas – for example foreign policy or immigration policy – are for the UK Government to determine, within a framework of broader friendly dialogue and cooperation between the UK and the EU: they do not require an institutionalised relationship. That approach is reflected in the arrangements set out in this paper.

Timing and pace of the negotiations

9. The Government will not extend the transition period provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement. This leaves a limited, but sufficient, time for the UK and the EU to reach agreement. The UK is committed to working in a speedy and determined fashion to do so, with an appropriate number of negotiating rounds between now and the June high-level meeting foreseen in the Political Declaration. The Government would hope that, by that point, the broad outline of an agreement would be clear and be capable of being rapidly finalised by September. If that does not seem to be the case at the June meeting, the Government will need to decide whether the UK’s attention should move away from negotiations and focus solely on continuing domestic preparations to exit the transition period in an orderly fashion. In so doing, it will be necessary to take into account in particular whether good progress has been possible on the least controversial areas of the negotiations, and whether the various autonomous processes on both sides are proceeding on a technical basis according to agreed deadlines.

Negotiating arrangements

10. The Government is committed to establishing the future relationship in ways that benefit the whole of the UK and strengthen the Union. International relations (including relations with the European Union) remain the responsibility of the UK Government and the UK Parliament. However, the UK Government recognises the interests of the devolved administrations in our negotiations with the EU, and their responsibilities for implementation in devolved areas. The UK Government is committed to working with the devolved administrations to deliver a future relationship with the EU that works for the whole of the UK. The Government will in particular ensure that any future arrangements for cooperation on law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters respect the separate and distinct legal systems in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

11. The Government will act in these negotiations on behalf of all the territories for whose international relations the UK is responsible. In negotiating the future relationship between these territories and the EU, the UK Government will seek outcomes which support the territories’ security and economic interests and which reflect their unique characteristics. Economic impact of the future relationship

12. Finally, the Government intends to invite contributions about the economic implications of the future relationship from a wide range of stakeholders via a public consultation. That process will begin later this spring.

Administrative Provisions, Transparency, and Exceptions

82. The Agreement should include provisions to establish a UK / EU Joint Committee, provide for commitments to transparency, and set out exceptions, for example on national security. 18 T

Managing the Agreement

83. The Agreement should include provisions for governance arrangements that are appropriate to a relationship of sovereign equals, drawn from existing Free Trade Agreements, such as those the EU has with Japan and Canada. These should be based on a Joint Committee to support the smooth functioning of the Agreement, and provide mechanisms for dialogue, and, if necessary, dispute resolution. The arrangements will reflect the regulatory and judicial autonomy of the UK and accordingly there will be no role for the Court of Justice of the European Union in the dispute resolution mechanism. This is consistent with previous Free Trade Agreements concluded by the EU.

Final Provisions

This Chapter should set out the usual range of final provisions.

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