Years Into the Brexit Process, the UK Still Faces Fundamental Choices for its Future Relationship with the EU
An alternative to the Irish Backstop? An “All-Ireland Common No-Custom Area” as a Frontier Traffic Area under Art. XXIV GATT for products originating in the island
On the political front, Brexit negotiations are proceeding; at the same time, from a strictly legal perspective, the tool with which Brexit will be managed at domestic level, i.e. the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (EUWB), is making progress in Parliament. On December 20, 2017, it was considered and amended by a Committee of the Whole House. The next step will come on January 16-17, 2018, when MPs will examine the Bill at remaining stages.
One of the most consequential – and politically challenging – amendments made in the December session subjected the final terms of withdrawal to a statute of the Parliament (sec. 9(1)). Nonetheless, there are sections of the Bill that did not undergo changes during the last reading, but that are equally controversial. These include its treatment of EU provisions related to human rights, in particular those enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFREU).
On 7 December 2017 the DCU Brexit Institute organised, in partnership with Ibec, a workshop on “Moving on? From the Divorce to Future EU – UK Relations”. This was a general survey of the first phase of the Brexit talks, concluding a series of workshops addressing the three key issues which had to be addressed before moving on to the second phase. (As it happens, on 8 December, the morning after the workshop, it was revealed that an agreement had been reached that apparently signalled sufficient progress to allow the talks to move on to Phase 2.)
Next week, on 14-15 December 2017 the European Council is set to decide whether sufficient progress has been made in the negotiations on the UK withdrawal from the EU to begin a discussion on the terms of the future relations between the UK and the EU. As is well known, the European Council concluded in October 2017 that, given the uncertainties of the UK Government, not enough progress had taken place by then in the negotiations and that therefore the beginning of phase 2 in the Brexit talks had to be postponed.
The DCU Brexit Institute celebrated its official opening on September 14. The Opening Event of this new DCU Brexit Institute, the first of its kind in Europe, addressed the question, “Which Brexit after the UK elections?”