Brexit: Council gives EC new mandate to negotiate transitional arrangements with UK
On 29 January 2018, the General Affairs Council (Article 50 formation) agreed on new negotiating directives for possible transitional arrangements with the United Kingdom after "Brexit". This enables the European Commission (EC) to begin these negotiations with the UK on such a transitional period which, according to the new directives, should expire on 31 December 2020 at the latest. The new negotiating directives supplement the negotiating directives of May 2017. They are based on an EC Recommendation of December 2017 and include details on possible transitional arrangements. In particular, the Negotiating Directives state the following:
There will be no "cherry picking": The United Kingdom will continue to participate in the Customs Union and the Single Market (with all four freedoms). The Union acquis will continue to apply in full to and in the United Kingdom as if it were a Member State. As a result, the United Kingdom should remain bound by the obligations stemming from agreements with third countries. Any changes made to the acquis during this time should automatically apply to the United Kingdom.
All existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures will apply, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The United Kingdom will be a third country as of 30 March 2019. It will, therefore, no longer be represented in Union institutions, agencies, bodies and offices.
The transition period needs to be clearly defined and precisely limited in time. It should not last beyond 31 December 2020. Consequently, the provisions on citizens' rights in the Withdrawal Agreement should apply as of the end of the transition period.
The negotiating directives also recall the need to translate into legal terms the results of the first phase of the negotiations, as outlined in the Commission's Communication and Joint Report. It underlines that work needs to be completed on all withdrawal issues, including those not yet addressed in the first phase, such as the overall governance of the Withdrawal Agreement and substantive issues such as intellectual property rights, protection of personal data and customs-related matters needed for the UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU.
Following the next rounds of negotiations, the Commission will publish "in due course" a draft legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement, of which transitional arrangements form part. The overall Article 50 Agreement will need to be concluded by the Council (Article 50), the European Parliament and the United Kingdom according to its own constitutional requirements.
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