On November 14, 2018, almost a year and a half after the British public voted to exit the EU, the UK and EU reached agreement on the terms of separation manifested in a draft Withdrawal Agreement.  This draft text updates an earlier version published in March 2018. Subsequently, on November 22, the EU and UK published the accompanying draft Political Declaration that sets out key principles of the future relationship.  On November 25, the European Council endorsed these two texts.  This post summarizes the key outcomes with respect to trade in goods, the continued applicability of EU law and European Court of Justice jurisdiction, and dispute settlement during the transition period, as well as the framework for the EU and UK’s future relationship.
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On September 13, 2018, the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill received Royal Assent, formalizing its application into UK law as an Act of Parliament.  This date marks less than one year since the Cross-border Trade Bill, also referred to as the “Customs Bill”, was first brought before the House of Commons.  The initial scope of the Customs Bill, as well as the accompanying Trade Bill, was discussed in a previous blog post.
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On 18 May 2018, the European Commission announced its intention to expand Council Regulation (EC) 2271/96 of 22 November 1996 (the “Blocking Regulation”) in order to discourage European companies from complying with newly re-imposed U.S. Iran-related sanctions. On 6 June 2018, the European Commission adopted a delegated regulation to enact these changes, which will come into force by 6 August 2018 (the date when the first wind-down period for the U.S. secondary sanctions on Iran expires), provided the EU Parliament and Council do not have objections.

This blogpost considers how the Blocking Regulation will work in practice for UK and European companies, in particular in light of the UK’s departure from the European Union (“EU”) in 2019.
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On 24 May 2018, the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (the “Act”) received Royal Assent, marking the conclusion of its passage through Parliament and its entry into law. The sanctions powers under the Act are expected to be exercisable following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union in March 2019 (“Brexit”).[1] This blog post takes a look at the sanctions provisions in the Act and explores how the UK’s sanctions regime might look following Brexit.
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On January 18, 2018, the European Commission launched a call for proposals on  regulatory cooperation activities envisaged by the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA”).   (See our previous post for further details on the provisional application of CETA). The Commission is seeking views from all interested parties on the scope of issues for potential regulatory cooperation in order to prepare for the first meeting of the RCF, tentatively scheduled to take place in mid-2018.
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In preparation for its independent trade remedy framework, the UK government has launched a Call for Evidence on November 28, 2017 to identify UK businesses that produce goods currently subject to EU anti-dumping or anti-subsidy measures. Currently, all trade remedy activities applying in the UK (for example investigations, decisions, and monitoring) are undertaken by the European Commission under the EU’s common commercial policy.  Post-Brexit, the UK plans to operate its own trade remedy regime through the “UK Trade Remedies Authority”. (See here for our previous post on the trade and customs bills establishing these powers.)
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In November 2017, the UK Government took its first legislative steps in preparation for its post-Brexit trade regime.  On November 7, the Trade Bill was introduced for a first reading in the House of Commons.  Separate from the imminent trade deal it must strike with the EU (once progress on Brexit withdrawal negotiations are deemed satisfactory by all parties concerned), the UK is now sketching out its own international trade powers that will allow it to shape its relationships with partners worldwide.

Subsequently, on November 20, the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill (the “Customs Bill”) was introduced for a first reading in the House of Commons.  The core elements of these two bills are described below.
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On May 22, 2017, the Council officially authorized the opening of Article 50 negotiations with the UK. It appointed the Commission as the EU’s negotiator and adopted a first set of Negotiating Directives outlining the EU’s priorities for the first phase of negotiations. These directives are in line with, and complement, the (more political) Article 50 Guidelines of the European Council, adopted by the EU 27 Heads of State and Government on April 29, 2017. This last step in a chain of authorization procedures means that the European Commission, led by Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, now has all the clearances required empowering it to start Brexit talks forthwith.

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On May 16, 2017, the EU Court of Justice released its long-awaited opinion on the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (“FTA” ) (“the Agreement”) (full text here). Back in July 2015, after the EU and Singapore completed trade negotiations, the European Commission sought clarity on its authority to conclude complex deals.

The following questions submitted by the Commission have now been answered:


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