Summary of the draft Withdrawal Agreement released by EU and UK

The draft Withdrawal Agreement, published on 14 November 2018, establishes the terms of the UK's Brexit transition period – beginning at 23:00 GMT on 29 March 2019 - assuming that the Agreement is passed by Parliament into Law in the UK - and it is ratified by each of the 27 remaining EU states.

This article summarises the draft Agreement in a 30 minute read focused on the active clauses within the 585 page full version to disconnect the UK from the EU..

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John ShuttleworthComment
Brexit and the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

The draft Withdrawal Agreement on the terms that UK will leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 has been published jointly by the EU and UK.

The draft Agreement is a holding position to allow meaningful talks in the future relationship to begin.  It temporarily extends some of the freedoms for the movement of goods, capital and persons within the EU.  It does not explicitly extend the freedom to deliver and buy services.

It does not change the end-game - defined in the complementary set of EU and UK Technical Notices - and on this basis, preparing for no-deal in March as a contingency is not wasted effort, it is a question of when and not if these will be needed.

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On the day that the UK Prime Minister announces a Brexit deal to the United Kingdom - the European Commission intensifies its preparations for a no-deal scenario.

The very day that Theresa May announced a deal had been reached with Europe, the European Commission has posted updates providing: “extensive information on the changes that will occur – in the event of no deal – for persons travelling between the EU and the UK, and vice versa, after 29 March 2019, or for businesses providing services in relation to such travel. It includes information on such things as border checks and customs controls, driving licences and pet passports, amongst others.”

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John ShuttleworthComment
Brexit – what happens next?

Deal or no-deal?  This evening Downing Street is giving Ministers sight of the draft agreement.  Labour looks set to vote against it, along with a significant number of Conservative MPs.  Meanwhile, the EU said it would "take stock" tomorrow (Wednesday) before referring the draft to the 27 remaining EU nations for their consideration - and the Irish government, for one, have said negotiations were "ongoing and have not concluded".

Brinkmanship needs a fine sense of balance - but it’s a game for politicians.  For the rest of us with businesses to run and lives to live, the risks are just too high to wait and see.  We can only repeat our mantra of “plan for the worst and hope for the best” – it just seems the prudent thing to do given there are only 16 weeks until a potential cliff-edge, no-deal Brexit.

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John ShuttleworthComment
UK Government issues step-by-step guide to a no-deal Brexit – meanwhile early adopters are already on the move

Many companies are not waiting for the outcome of Brexit negotiations to trigger their contingency plans.  As soon as the lead-time is greater than the time left, it’s the only prudent course of action. 

For this insight, we look at latest UK Government advice - which  includes the caveat that: ”you do not need to take any of these steps at this time. We will let you know when the time is right for you to take a course of action”. 

The 10-step guide to Brexit, just published by UK Government, comes as we highlight a cross-section of commerce and business responses - illustrating the shift away from the UK…and this could just be the snowball kicking off the top of the mountain…

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John ShuttleworthComment
Government updates advice on doing business with EU in a no-deal Brexit

For this insight, we have worked through the latest UK Government’s guide to preparing for Brexit - issued last week.  It focuses on day 1 of a no-deal Brexit - 30 March 2019 - and asks businesses to prepare for the key changes that will come into effect that day…or at least such changes that the Government can already foresee.

With the clock running down to Brexit and the political manoeuvrings this weekend in London and Brussels serving only to increase the chances of “no-deal” - the prudent thing is to “plan for the worst and hope for the best”..

There is no escaping HMRC’s conclusion - a no-deal Brexit will impact margins as trading with the EU immediately becomes more bureaucratic and costly. 

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John ShuttleworthComment
Parliament’s Energy & Environment Committee warns of post-Brexit issues for the chemical industry.

Chemical regulation might seem like a niche area of Brexit considerations, but chemicals are used to make products that we all use every day - and the chemical sector is key to the UK's economy.

The Government has ruled out UK continuing as a member of the Single Market and the industry urgently needs a Plan B, According to the Committee: “that simply hasn't happened” with the sector facing a “huge cliff-edge” on the day the UK leaves the EU.

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Government responds to the Home Affairs Committee report: ‘Brexit - the proposed UK-EU security treaty’.

As part of the Brexit negotiations, the UK Government would like to negotiate an internal security agreement with the EU on future security cooperation between the EU and third countries - and implications for Northern Ireland.

The Home Affairs Sub-Committee looked at current and future potential models – and made 39 detailed recommendations in their report published in July 2018.  The Government has just published its detailed response to the issues and concerns raised.

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John ShuttleworthComment
European Commission updates its advice to governments, businesses and citizens - and warns them that it is their responsibility to be fully prepared for Brexit

Little time remains to conclude a Withdrawal Agreement - and for this to be ratified by UK Parliament, European Parliament, and the remaining 27 EU member states.  A gulf exists between the parties on a number of key issues,  The EC is now asking all interested parties to focus on what they consider to be the 2 most likely scenarios:  no-deal; and a deal with a limited transition period ending on 31 December 2020.  They have emphasised that it is the responsibility of each government, business and citizen to satisfy themselves that they have sufficiently prepared for Brexit in order to avoid or minimise any disruption.

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John ShuttleworthComment