The Council adopted yesterday, 25 th of March, a decision authorising the opening of negotiations for a new partnership with the UK, and formally nominating the Commission as EU negotiator. The Council also adopted negotiating directives which constitute a mandate to the Commission for the negotiations.
The EU wishes to establish an ambitious, wide-ranging and balanced economic partnership with the UK. The mandate stresses that the future partnership should be underpinned by robust commitments to ensure a level playing field for open and fair competition, given the EU and the UK’s geographic proximity and economic interdependence.
The EU intends to establish a free trade agreement with the UK which ensures that zero tariffs and quotas apply to trade in goods. This agreement should provide for cooperation on customs and regulatory aspects. It should also include effective management and supervision, dispute settlement and enforcement arrangements.
On fisheries, the mandate outlines that the future partnership should uphold the existing reciprocal access to waters as well as stable quota shares. The agreement on fisheries should be established by 1 July 2020, to give time for determining fishing opportunities after the end of the transition period.
The mandate also contains provisions for future cooperation in areas such as digital trade, intellectual property, public procurement, mobility, transport, and energy.
The EU will seek to establish a comprehensive security partnership with the UK. The partnership should comprise law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, as well as foreign policy, security and defence. The mandate foresees that the future partnership should be embedded in an overall governance framework covering all areas of cooperation.
Formal negotiations with the United Kingdom are set to begin the week of 2 March 2020.
On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).
The arrangements for the withdrawal are set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, which entered into force on 1 February 2020. It provides for a transition period during which EU law continues to apply to the United Kingdom until at least 31 December 2020, unless the Joint Committee established under the Withdrawal Agreement adopts, before 1 July 2020, a single decision extending the transition period for up to 1 or 2 years.