UK sets priorities for Brexit negotiations


UK sets priorities for Brexit negotiations

The UK voted in a referendum to leave the EU. The UK government intends to follow the outcome of the referendum. In the way towards an actual Brexit, the UK government published their 12 priorities for upcoming negotiations.

06 February 2017

On 2 February 2017, the UK government published a Whitepaper, including the 12 priorities, guiding the UK government in the process of achieving a Brexit. By this Whitepaper, the UK lives up to the results of the referendum in which the UK citizens in majority voted to leave the EU.


The Whitepaper determines the UK position in the Brexit negotiations. This does not necessarily correspond to the position of the EU or its Member States. The 12 priorities are:

  1. Providing certainty and clarity
  2. Taking control of the UK’s own laws
  3. Strengthening the UK’s internal union
  4. Protecting the strong historic ties with Ireland and maintaining the Common Travel Area
  5. Controlling immigration
  6. Securing rights for EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU
  7. Protecting workers’ rights
  8. Ensuring free trade with European markets
  9. Securing new trade agreements with other countries
  10. Ensuring the UK remains the best place for science and innovation
  11. Cooperating in the fight against crime and terrorism
  12. Delivering a smooth, orderly exit from the EU

Start of Brexit procedure

As a starting point, the UK still schedules to formally initiate the Brexit negotiations ultimately 31 March 2017. As of the date the formal notification is made, the UK and the EU have two years to finalize the Brexit negotiations. An extension is, however, possible. The UK intends to transpose all EU legal requirements arising from primary and secondary EU law, that were not yet implemented in UK domestic law, into UK domestic legislation. After subsequently having repealed EU law formally, the UK can then cherry-pick which rule they want to keep and which rule they want to get rid of.


Free trade area

An important part of the discussion concerns the trade relation between the EU and the UK. The UK wants to ensure a large free trade area with EU Member States, as many Member States export goods to the UK and the UK exports to the Member States. They do not intend to continue being part of the single market. They do want to the largest possible extent to have a free trade zone with all EU Member States. That would mean that goods and services could flow through without too much (tax) obstacles. This would also require a new customs agreement between the EU and the UK. PM May made very clear that the new arrangement would not lead to a full free movement of persons, that the new EU-UK relation would be unprecedented and that no vast contributions to the EU budget will be made anymore – unlike other countries with close ties to the EU.


EU nationals in the UK

Another point of uncertainty relates to the rights of EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU. The UK sets as a priority to sort the effects of a Brexit to these nationals in either way on a reciprocal basis ahead of the formal Brexit negotiations. Thusfar, no agreement has yet been reached.

During the Brexit negotiations, we will keep you updated on all relevant tax law related consequences.

Source: Whitepaper on the UK’s exit from and new partnership with the EU

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