In the week that’s seen an amendment on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill ruling out an extension to the transition period, a vote on the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement, a rise and fall in the pound and the announcement that the word ‘Brexit’ will be dropped and DExEU will be closed on 31 January, the EU has been the recipient of a lot of news from the UK.
First and foremost, the Council submitted its request for the Commission to present a mandate to start post-Brexit negotiations as soon as possible. The Council concluded that it would like to achieve a relationship with the UK that is ‘as close as possible’ that aims for zero tariffs and regulatory standards based on a ‘level playing field’. On 17 December, President von der Leyen confirmed the Commission’s agreement to launch negotiations from the beginning of 2020. It is worth noting that this decision to start the second stage of negotiations has been taken before stage one was formally concluded. This had previously been one of the EU’s very strict red lines.
On 18 December, the Parliament’s International Trade Committee (INTA) submitted a letter to the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO). The letter states that that ‘at its meeting of 21 January 2020’ (sic), the INTA Committee confirmed its consent to withdrawal of the UK from the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community and its consent for the Commission to carry out efficient checks and controls overseeing the implementation of the Union Customs Code by the UK authorities.
The Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) submitted a similar
letter stressing the importance of safeguarding the single market and the increased importance consumers being adequately informed if making purchases in the UK or from a UK trader with regard to consumer rights.
Furthermore, since the EU is primarily consumed with Green Deal policy-making, concerns have been raised over the loss of one less pro-climate vote. The EU recognises the policy measures the UK has put in place with regard to climate change, and leading figures have begun to express their regret that the UK will not continue to champion climate change at an EU level or provide leadership when finalising agreements such as the taxonomy file.