By Jamie McNish, Trainee Solicitor

While much of the focus on the government’s White Paper has been on its political fallout, it contains important indicators of how a future UK-EU relationship may take shape.

In Part 1 of our look at the Chequers Plan, we looked at the treatment of goods. Here we discuss the provision of services post-Brexit.

Services

While the proposal for goods is that arrangements be similar to those as exist at present, for services a situation in which the UK and EU “will not have current levels of access to each other’s markets” is envisaged.

With a starting point of the World Trade Organization’s rules, the UK government proposes an arrangement by which service providers are allowed “broad access” to UK and EU markets, subject to agreed exceptions and barriers, which are to be kept to a minimum. The form that these exceptions and barriers may take is not fleshed out in the White Paper. Building on this foundation are specific proposals addressing the mutual recognition of qualifications and the key area of financial services. While the White Paper acknowledges that both are areas which require specific action, detailed proposals are yet to be set out. On financial services, it is acknowledged that a replacement for the existing “passporting” regime is required, and that the current regimes for third party states are not sufficient. A new economic and regulatory arrangement is proposed, preserving cross-border provision, and involving common principles and supervisory cooperation.

Given the importance of the sector to the UK’s economy, the White Paper acknowledges the need for a tailored approach here, while not yet providing a great deal of detail itself. With the underlying proposals not taking their cues from the current arrangement, it is likely that extensive discussion with the EU will be required, as well as a more detailed proposal from the UK government.

Persons

The White Paper confirms that it is the UK government’s intention to end the free movement of persons. Further details of the UK’s immigration system are to be set out “in due course”. The White Paper indicates that the UK government would try to seek reciprocal arrangements for short-term business visits, and similar, but an overall position is still to be put forth.

Timeline

While much is still in flux in terms of the upcoming timeline, below are some key dates which are approaching:

September 2018

Immigration Report due to be published

18th-19th October 2018

European Council Summit – transition deal to be agreed

13th-14th December 2018

Last European Council meeting of 2018

21st January 2019

If no deal has been reached, a minister will set out the proposed next steps in a statement. Parliament will vote on this, “in neutral terms”

29th March 2019

The deadline in terms of the Article 50 process

31st December 2020

The transition period is scheduled to end

The need for clarity going forward

It is obvious to all that there are complex political issues within the UK which require to be resolved in order to come to a coherent negotiating position, and likely that other such issues will arise when proposals are discussed with the EU.

Turcan Connell will continue to report on those areas outside of the political realm on which our clients require clarity and answers. As discussions advance, it is to be hoped that firmer positions and more concrete proposals for the regulatory landscape after leaving the EU will emerge, and that we will be able to offer guidance as to how these should be approached.

We will monitor developments as they arise, and continue to provide our clients with advice as to how future changes affect them – with areas such as Agriculture, Family Law, and Business being among those particularly reliant on EU law.