Brexit – Initial deal agreed

December 8, 2017

  1. The UK Government and the European Commission have issued a joint report setting out the progress of the phase 1 negotiations for the Brexit divorce terms.
  2. This report is being put forward with a view to the European Council recommending the commencement of phase 2 negotiations on the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU.  It is issued with the caveat that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.
  3. A copy of the text of the UK-EU report is here.
  4. The key provisions are:
    • Citizens’ rights: All EU citizens resident in the UK and all UK citizens resident in the EU at the date of Brexit will have ongoing rights to remain together with their immediate families (and future children) subject to various restrictions. After Brexit there will be a simple registration system for EU citizens coming to live and work in the UK.
    • Ireland and Northern Ireland: In the absence of alternative agreed solutions (i.e. a satisfactory free trade deal between the UK and the EU), the UK will maintain full alignment with the rules of the single market and the customs union which support North-South cooperation in Ireland; the UK will also ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
    • Financial settlement: There is no specific figure but the broad principles of the financial settlement have been agreed.  The UK government currently estimates the bill at around £35-£40 billion.
  5. Other high-level provisions relate to ongoing EU judicial procedures, the functioning of the EU institutions, agencies and bodies and police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
  6. The EU has dropped its demand for the divorce settlement to come under the direct jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).  However, the UK will pay “due regard” to European court rulings on citizens’ rights.  For at least eight years, British courts may also refer questions on EU law to the CJEU.
  7. The European Council is expected to approve the joint report on 14/15 December 2017.  This will mean negotiations can move on to details of a transitional period and the final post-Brexit EU-UK relationship.
  8. There are reports that the UK is expected to remain within the single market and customs union for a two year transitionary period.  Whilst there is no certainty on what will follow, there is a possibility that the EU and UK concessions on Ireland and Northern Ireland may help the UK to strike a long-term deal on staying in the customs union and single market (the so-called “soft Brexit”).
  9. There is still much to be discussed.  “We all know breaking up is hard, but breaking up and building a new relationship is harder,” commented Donald Tusk, European Council president.  “The most difficult challenge is still ahead.”

This client alert was prepared by London partners Stephen Gillespie, Charlie Geffen and Nicholas Aleksander and of counsel Anne MacPherson.

We have a working group in London (led by Stephen Gillespie, Nicholas Aleksander, Patrick Doris, Charlie Geffen, Ali Nikpay and Selina Sagayam) that has been considering these issues for many months.  Please feel free to contact any member of the working group or any of the other lawyers mentioned below.

Ali Nikpay – Antitrust
Tel: 020 7071 4273
Charlie Geffen – Corporate
Tel: 020 7071 4225
Stephen Gillespie – Finance
Tel: 020 7071 4230
Philip Rocher – Litigation
Tel: 020 7071 4202
Jeffrey M. Trinklein – Tax
Tel: 020 7071 4224
Nicholas Aleksander – Tax
Tel: 020 7071 4232
Alan Samson – Real Estate
Tel:  020 7071 4222
Patrick Doris – Litigation; Data Protection
Tel:  020 7071 4276
Penny Madden QC – Arbitration
Tel:  020 7071 4226
James A. Cox – Employment; Data Protection
Tel: 020 7071 4250
Gregory A. Campbell – Restructuring
Tel:  020 7071 4236
Selina Sagayam – Corporate
Tel:  020 7071 4263

© 2017 Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

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