Chequers proposal and the EU
In order to conclude Article 50 and leave the EU, Theresa May and the Conservative Party finalised a White Paper called the Chequers proposal as a framework of 12 points of what the UK expects when parting from the European Union. These proposals will be heading off to Michel Barnier’s team and the 27 EU members to discuss whether to accept or deny them.
The Chequers proposal
A date has officially been declared. The decision has been made that the UK will be leaving the EU on the 29th March 2019. Currently the UK contributes around £19 billion a year to the EU budget. Theresa May has vowed to completely cut this sum out and therefore we will no longer be paying any money towards the EU. The UK will leave the EU’s single market and trade union which currently restricts the country in terms of trading.
Free Movement of People
The ending of free movement is a major point which will result in the UK inevitably having tougher border restrictions. The idea is for a ‘mobility framework’ to be agreed allowing for UK and EU citizens to travel, study and work in each other’s countries. This will likely have repercussions for individuals intending to move to the UK, and especially those living in the UK without a British passport. However, if nothing is agreed the intention is for EU migrants to be subject to the same rules as non-EU migrants, with quicker border services.
Common Rulebook for all goods
The UK will want a UK-EU free trade area on industrial goods and agricultural products meaning that they will remain trading allies. In particular, the UK will be committing to continued harmonisation with EU rules, albeit only to the extent required to have frictionless trade between the UK and Ireland. The UK also intends to have an ability to diverge from certain EU rules away from the border. This will mean certain traders will be subject to the lower UK trade tariff, while other traders from which there is weak evidence of where the goods have come from will have to pay a higher EU tariff. There is the possibility of a refund in the case of a wrong tariff being applied. Being in control of aspects of external EU trade policy will result in clashes over court jurisdiction.
The European Court of Justice will no longer have true jurisdiction in the UK meaning that the Supreme Court will become the UK’s highest court. However a referral mechanism is intended to be set up, whereby an independent arbitration panel would refer UK/EU disputes over to the CJEU, where they are competent to do so. Due regard will be given to any CJEU decisions that apply to the ‘Common Rulebook’ but won’t resolve any disputes and do not necessarily need to be followed.
Although the UK will still want access to the EU market, leaving the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy is on the agenda.
The Chequers proposal continues Theresa May’s drive to prevent there from being a hard border with Northern Ireland.
The UK will still want access to EU security frameworks to ensure high levels of safety, which would result in appropriate monetary contributions being sent to those involved due to an area of joint action.
With many similar EU agreements being proposed, and with a number of options to diverge from the proposed agreements in certain areas, it will make it difficult for Theresa May to push through the Chequers proposal at both domestic and European level as seen below.
Donald Tusk has expressed his views on the matter stating that “May’s Brexit trade plan will not work”, primarily down to the EU viewpoint that the Cabinet are cherry-picking what areas of EU law they wish to follow. Issues have especially arisen in terms of free trade and the idea that it would divide the EU’s single market. The EU have expressed that the UK cannot leave the single market but still want a common rulebook on consumer goods.
Plans strategically put together have been ripped apart by former party members. For example, the resignation of Boris Johnson signified a form of protest on Brexit matters and undoubtedly criticism will increase in the coming weeks from within the Conservative party.
It remains to be seen exactly how Theresa May will navigate through these choppy waters with sharks on both sides, however we will continue to keep you updated as negotiations continue apace.
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