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Politics & Law Series: Expert Comment

City Law School experts comment on Brexit Day and the UK's future

From Immigration and Settlement, to International Economic Law, Patents and the post-Brexit resolution of UK-EU disputes, City academics comment on the UK’s departure from the EU.
by John Stevenson (Senior Communications Officer)

The UK formally leaves the European Union on Friday, 31st January 2020 with a withdrawal deal.

It then enters a transition period scheduled to end on 31st December 2020.

The UK will remain in the EU's customs union and single market in this period, but it will be outside the EU's political institutions and will not have any British members sitting in the European Parliament.

City Law School academics have commented on various aspects of UK's departure from the EU.

Dr Adrienne Yong: Immigration and Settlement

Lecturer and specialist on the effect of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on human rights protection of EU citizens, Dr Adrienne Yong, says:

“The UK’s official withdrawal from the EU on Friday will, in the immediate aftermath, change little for EU citizens and immigration. This is because the arrangements for Brexit and a new immigration system were already in motion as early as the end of 2018, ahead of the original date of withdrawal, 29th March 2019. EU citizens in the UK have been able to apply under the new “settled status” regime since the end of March 2019 in order to be able to stay after the transition period ends, currently the end of 2020. Though the latest figures from the end of December 2019 were that 2.7 million applications had been received thus far, there is still uncertainty about a number of issues.”

She goes on to say:

Putting aside the issues of those who fail to apply for settled status by the deadline, there are also other uncertainties. Confusion has ensued regarding how to prove that an individual has settled status because there are no plans to introduce a physical document as proof. This will need to be adequately addressed. The new post-Brexit immigration system that has also been in development for some time during negotiations is still yet to confirm how EU citizens coming to the UK after the transition period is over will be treated, and whether what is known as a full points-based system will be appropriate and fair. A recent report commissioned by the Government includes a number of suggestions, so it remains to be seen whether these will be adopted in the period of change to come after the UK leaves the EU on Friday, 31st January 2020.

Professor David Collins: International Economic Law

Professor of International Economic Law, Professor David Collins, says:

“Brexit is finally upon us this week, and there is a sense of optimism and excitement among many that the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU and the rest of the world is a bright one. For international economic lawyers, the focus now is very much on ironing out the technical details of a UK-EU Free Trade Agreement, unencumbered by the frustrating political game-playing that has characterized the last few years."

“The UK has indicated that it intends to use its newfound independence to diverge from EU regulations where necessary for its economic interests. Ultimately the extent to which this actually takes place may take years to unfold but we can expect reduced red tape across a number of sectors, to the delight of many."

The UK is quite rightly prepared to countenance diminished access to the EU’s market as a consequence, a point which EU negotiators are quick to acknowledge. A simple, tariff free, quota-free FTA with the EU is likely by the end of this year but longer will be needed for something more comprehensive involving services. Perhaps more importantly given the shrinking component of trade that the UK does with the EU, the months after Brexit Day will unveil intense negotiations and ultimately FTAs with other countries.

Dr Enrico Bonadio: Intellectual Property and Trademark Law

Senior Lecturer and Intellectual Property and Trademark Law researcher,  Dr Enrico Bonadio said:

“In the post-Brexit era, intellectual property (IP) law faces an uncertain future. The impact of Brexit on IP rights cannot be foreseen with certainty and depends on the outcome of negotiations and agreements made between the UK and the EU during the upcoming second phase of the negotiation. It is uncertain, for instance,  if the UK will participate in the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court system, despite the UK’s ratification of the relevant agreement in April 2018. As far as EU trade marks and designs go, what appears certain is that EU trademarks and designs will no longer have effect in UK - with the British government creating (at the end of the transition period) a comparable UK trade mark for every registered trademark or design, without charging for it. The British government has also said it will not implement the EU Digital Single Market Directive, which leaves open the possibility the UK will diverge in the digital and copyright fields.”

Dr Jed Odermatt: Law and Practice of International Courts - The CJEU

Dr Jed Odermatt, whose recent research is centred on the law and practice of international courts, in particular, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), is of the view that:

“Brexit will have an impact on both the UK and the EU’s foreign policy. One of the important areas of cooperation still be decided upon, is in the field of international peace and security, and the extent to which the UK will align itself with EU foreign policy after Brexit. The UK will lose a seat at the table in the EU decision-making process, and this means no longer shaping EU foreign policy."

"The UK has a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, and an impressive foreign relations network, and the EU will lose an import foreign policy player. Yet it is also likely that the EU and UK will continue to cooperate and share information in a number of areas after Brexit, particularly in international security. While the UK has historically resisted the formation of a single EU foreign policy, the EU and UK will likely work together on priority areas such as nuclear disarmament, counter terrorism and climate change.”

Another issue is how the EU and UK will resolve legal disputes between them after Brexit. The withdrawal agreement contains detailed provisions on dispute settlement, including the establishment of a mechanism that would resolve disputes between the two parties. While the EU and UK will seek to resolve disagreements diplomatically, it is likely that such disputes could come before a formal dispute settlement body.

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