On 19 May 2020, the Government published the following draft legal texts to accompany its February 2020 policy paper, The future relationship with the EU.
The draft legal texts comprise:
- UK-EU Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (chapter 17 deals with financial services).
- UK-EU CFTA Annexes.
- Fisheries Framework Agreement.
- Air Transport Agreement.
- Civil Aviation Safety Agreement.
- Annexes to Civil Aviation Safety Agreement.
- Energy Agreement.
- Social Security Coordination Agreement.
- Civil Nuclear Agreement.
- Agreement on Law Enforcement and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters.
- Agreement on the transfer of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
- Agreement on the readmission of people residing without authorisation.
The Government has also published a letter that it has sent to the EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier. The letter states that the Government is making the above texts available as a constructive contribution to the negotiations, and in particular as a response from a suggestion from Mr Barnier, in the last two rounds of negotiations, that it would assist in explaining the UK’s proposals in more detail to Member States.
The Government explains that it has tried to be clear consistently that the UK is looking for a suite of agreements with a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) at the core. Accordingly the draft legal texts draw on precedent where relevant precedent exists and the draft FTA approximates very closely to those the EU has agreed with Canada or Japan.
As regards services, the Government states that the EU is resisting the inclusion of provisions in regulatory cooperation for financial services, though it agreed them in the EU-Japan EPA. The EU’s offer on lengths of stay for short-term business visitors is less generous than CETA, and does not include the non-discrimination commitment found in EU-Mexico. The Government also states that the “EU has also not proposed anything on services which reflects the specific nature of our relationship; indeed your team has told us that the EU’s market access offer on services might be less than that tabled with Australia and New Zealand.”
The Government concludes that at this moment in the negotiations what is on offer is not a fair free trade relationship between close economic partners but a relatively low-quality trade agreement.
The Government asks the EU to think again about its proposals in a way that will enable both the EU and the UK to then find a rapid and constructive alternative way forward.