UK/EU Relationship Update

Source: House of Commons

It’s been a big week for UK diplomacy. While the Prime Minister has been hosting leaders of the world’s richest nations at the G7 summit in North Cornwall, there have also been two key meetings with the EU.

Last Wednesday saw the inaugural meeting of the Partnership Council, established under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement to supervise its operation at a political level. It covered a range of issues with more detail available in statements from both the UK Government and European Commission.

On the same day was the eighth meeting of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. Lord Frost met with European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič to discuss the ongoing issues relating to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Impasse remains on key areas including on sanitary and agriculture checks, and the grace period on the movement of chilled meat products which is due to end on 1 July.

Lord Frost described the meeting as having no breakthroughs but no breakdowns. However, in a press conference afterwards, Šefčovič said that EU “patience is wearing really, really thin, so we need to assess all options at our disposal.” The UK accused Brussels of taking a “very purist interpretation of EU law” and failing to take account of sensitivities in Northern Ireland.

They made some progress on other Protocol-related issues, including the supply of medicines and movement of guide dogs to Northern Ireland from Great Britain as well as VAT on second-hand vehicles. The UK Government also said that it had provided plans for the EU’s access to its customs databases and IT systems, while Šefčovič told the press conference that issues around the detention of EU citizens at the UK border will be solved quickly. You can read statements from both the UK Government and EU online.

Key dates for 2021

  • 30 June: End of temporary bridging period for the free flow of personal data from the EU to the UK.
  • 1 July: End of six-month grace period for Great Britain-Northern Ireland trade on chilled meat products.
  • 1 July: Deadline for agreeing guidelines for the setting of Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for special stocks of fish, subject to quotas.
  • 1 October: New unilateral UK date for ending grace period in relation to food safety paperwork when moving agri-food goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  • 1 October (but extendable to July 2022): Deadline for determining whether the UK meets the conditions for exchanging personal data (DNA profiles, fingerprints and vehicle registration data) under the Prüm framework.
  • 31 December: End of transitional period allowing more time for exporters to obtain the suppliers’ declarations needed to prove the origin of their exports (so that they qualify for preferential treatment under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA)).
  • 31 December: End of 12-month adaptation period for businesses to implement an EU regulation in relation to the flow of medicines from, and via, Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
  • 31 December: Deadline for first review of TCA provisions on air transport with a view to further liberalisation of ownership and control of air carriers.