The Prime Minister’s white paper on exiting the EU and the new proposed relationship
The UK Government is now firmly set to formally trigger the process of leaving the EU by invoking Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union. The treaties of the EU will no longer apply in the UK when the withdrawal agreements enter into force, or two years from the day the UK notifies the EU of its withdrawal.
Whilst we are yet to receive the ‘save the date’ card from the Government, we are all being reassured that the Article 50 provisions will be put to work by the end of March 2017.
David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, cited 12 main objectives which have been set out for negotiation:
- Providing certainty and clarity where we can as we approach the negotiations.
- Taking control of our own laws and statute book.
- Strengthening the Union by securing a deal that works for the whole of the UK.
- Maintaining the Common Travel Area and protecting our strong historic ties with Ireland.
- Controlling immigration from the EU.
- Securing the rights for EU citizens already living in the UK and the rights of UK nationals living in the EU.
- Protecting and enhancing existing workers’ rights.
- Ensuring free trade with European markets, forging a new strategic partnership with the EU including a bold and ambitious free trade agreement and mutually beneficial new customs agreement.
- Forging ambitious free trade agreements with other countries across the world.
- Ensuring the UK remains the best place for science and innovation.
- Co-operating in the fight against crime and terrorism.
- Delivering a smooth, orderly exit from the European Union.
We are being told that the UK will seek to agree a new approach to interpretation and dispute resolution with the EU. The UK already has a number of dispute resolution mechanisms in its international arrangements, and the white paper offers examples.
The UK is working with the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to deliver an outcome that works for the whole of the UK. Any rules previously set through common EU legal and regulatory frameworks will be dealt with by the representatives of all four governments.
The Government has high hopes for a new immigration system to control the numbers of people who come to the UK from the EU. In the near future, the Free Movement Directive will no longer apply and the migration of EU nationals will be subject to UK law.
The domestic Immigration Rules will apply to everyone, and so will the fees for the applications submitted to the Home Office!
There is no further explanation offered in the white paper, or anywhere else as to what exactly is meant by ‘control’. It is not clear whether there will be any special provisions for EU migrants within the Immigration Rules, or whether by ‘control’ the Government means to impose a cap on the number of migrants for each EU state.
Or perhaps the ‘control’ will be exercised in reciprocation of the treatment of the UK nationals living in the particular member state. The Government states that, in search of guidance about the UK’s business, they are already in consultation with businesses and communities throughout the UK.
It is pleasing to hear that existing EU students and those starting courses in 2017-2018 will continue to be eligible for student loans and home fee status for the duration of their course. It has also been confirmed that research councils will continue to fund postgraduate students from the EU whose courses start in 2017-2018.
The Government has established a department for international trade which will lead the UK in the new development of UK trade. The UK, as one of the founding members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will continue to secure future trade relationships through new schedules covering trade in goods and services.
Science and innovation
The Government plans to capitalise on the UK’s strategic strengths in the sphere of science and innovation. UK companies are planned to be put in the forefront of innovation. But what or who stopped the Government doing so until now?
The UK will keep playing key roles in NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence, and it will keep its leading role in NATO’s Response Force, made up of land, air, maritime and Special Operations Forces.
The Government maintains that there is no threat to EU nationals, businesses or trade. The future, according to the White Paper is bright. But does the Home Office see the plans the same way?
Whilst the Government is promising a phased process, it also notifies that some new arrangements will be introduced very quickly. It does not state which ones and the pressing questions of European nationals wishing to remain in the UK, about their future, remain unanswered.
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