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EU Commission Mandate Opens Negotiations for New UK Partnership


Now that the UK has officially left the EU, it is time for the negotiations for what kind of deal and relations the two will have moving forward. On 3 February 2020 the EU Commission presented recommendations for the directives of the negotiations, which the EU Council then took into consideration when issuing the mandate. EU27 leaders aim to have as close as possible future relationship with the UK. At the moment, the UK must still apply EU law until the end of the transition period, 31 December 2020.

The Mandate

On 25 February 2020 the European Union Council authorized by mandate the opening of negotiations for a new partnership with the UK, effectively giving the go-ahead for the necessary talks that will shape how the new relationship between the EU and UK will look to begin. The EU Commission was nominated as the EU negotiator, as the Council adopted as well another decision that constitutes a mandate to for the Commission in terms of the negotiations.

The EU has explained that it is ready and willing to establish an ambitious, wide-ranging and balanced economic partnership with the UK. Ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition is the underlying tone of the mandate for negotiations. Due to the geographic proximity and economic interdependence of the EU and UK, this level playing field is seen as essential for EI negotiator, Michel Barnier.

The intention for the negotiations is to establish a free trade agreement with the UK. The goal of this agreement is to ensure zero tariffs and quotas on trade in goods, as well as provide for cooperation on customs, regulatory aspects, effective management and supervisions, and dispute settlement and enforcement arrangements. In terms of fisheries, current reciprocal access to waters and quotas share should continue as is, with a final agreement deadline of 1 July 2020. Other areas of trade that the mandate issues provisions for future cooperation are digital trade, intellectual property, public procurement, mobility, transport and energy.

Additionally, a comprehensive security partnership and governance framework between the EU and UK should cover law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

Overall, the emphasis of the mandate is that the negations between the EU and UK should lead to a level playing field concentrated on cooperation in order to arrive at the best possible end deal.

What happens next?

Now, the UK and EU Commission must agree on the dates for when the negotiating sessions will begin, with the first formal meeting expected to occur in early March. Some, actually, on fisheries and data protection for example, have already started this week.


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