The political declaration uses the phraseology ‘as close as possible’ trading relationship, with specific references to a comprehensive free trade area, deep regulatory and customs cooperation and a level playing field. The declaration leaves open a wide spectrum of avenues through which this could be achieved. On the one hand it refers to building on the single customs territory established as part of the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland Protocol. On the other hand there are also references to using technology and customs facilitations to remove/reduce friction. The wording on goods allows for a range of different end state options to be delivered.
The concept of a common rule book for goods that could otherwise entail friction at the border has been replaced by conformation that the EU and UK will be separate markets and different entities for animal and plant health. There is, however, reference to regulatory alignment, effectively building on the level playing field agreed as part of the Irish protocol ‘backstop’ arrangement. There is also reference to exploring the possibility of UK cooperation with EU agencies – such as in medicines, chemicals and aviation.
The overall sense is that trade between the UK and EU will not be frictionless, but the extent of checks will depend upon the degree of regulatory divergence by the UK from the rules of the EU single market. There is a strong focus throughout on supporting the facilitation of trade between the UK and the EU.
In relation to services, there is a clear intent that the UK will not be part of the EU single market for the purposes of services. The ambition is to achieve a level of liberalisation that clearly exceeds WTO requirements. There is reference to voluntary regulatory cooperation with “appropriate arrangements” for mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
Freedom of movement will not continue. However there is a clear aspiration to aim for visa-free travel. There will be arrangements to support temporary business travel.
The Common Fisheries Policy will no longer apply with the UK effectively becoming an independent coastal state. There will be a new fisheries agreement on access and quota shares. The aspiration is to ratify a new fisheries agreement by 1 July 2020 so that it can be used to determine fishing opportunities for the first year after transition.
There is agreement to allow trade in digital services and other services dependent on data flows to continue, without the UK joining the Digital Single Market
Both sides intend to ensure protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, going beyond the World Trade Organization (WTO) standards and World Intellectual Property Organisation conventions. Protections for geographical indications to be negotiated, with the commitments set out in the Withdrawal Agreement in relation to GIs applying until a new negotiated arrangement supercedes it
This will largely be determined by a series of separate deals including ensuring ‘comparable market access’ for road transport operators. There will also be a comprehensive air transport agreement and bilateral arrangements for cross-border rail services.
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