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Brexit and the status of international agreements in the event of a "no deal"

On 6th March 2019, the UK Department for Exiting the European Union  ( DEXIT) published a guidance update on the status of International Agreements if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The guidance explains that  over the last two years or so the UK Government has been working with international partners to replicate, where necessary, EU agreements where it intends to stand in the shoes of the EU with those international partners, post-Brexit. Not all such EU agreements will be replicated by formal successor treaties. In some cases, a less formal  Memorandum of Understanding or some form of Dialogue or other type of arrangement may do.

Formal successor treaties generally need to be scrutinized by the UK Parliament  before ratification under the UK Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 ( although there are exemptions from such scrutiny in exceptional cases) . Other types of arrangement  do not require such scrutiny.

Some types of arrangement do not need to be replicated at all because   they have been superseded or because they are not relevant to the UK, such as agreements relating to the use of the Euro or the accession of a state to membership of the EU.

The guidance confirms that, for Crown Dependencies or Overseas Territories of the UK which had their own specific relationships with the EU, it is in general the UK Government's intention that the relevant transitioned continuity agreement   between the UK and a third party will apply to the relevant UK Crown Dependency or Overseas Territory to the same extent as the corresponding EU agreement applied to the UK Crown Dependency or Overseas Territory.

In the case of the EEA Agreement, the EU-Swiss Free Movement of Persons Agreement and EU-Turkey Agreement ( the so-called Ankara Agreement), the guidance makes it clear that UK Government will  certainly not be transitioning those agreements in their entirety. Special arrangements will, however, be made  or sought to preserve the residence rights of citizens of the UK or of the  countries concerned  who are resident in the other so that they are not affected by a "no deal" Brexit.

In the case of  Brexit with a "Yes deal "based on the draft EU Withdrawal Agreement , the guidance confirms that the EU has agreed to notify treaty partners that the UK is to be treated as an EU  Member State under international agreements for continuity purposes during the related Implementation Period . After the  end  of that Implementation Period, the UK would no longer be covered by this approach and new arrangements would need to have been made ( presumably along the lines of the transitioning arrangements currently being  put in place in relation to a "No deal" Brexit ).

Together with the guidance, DEXIT has published a number of updates on individual subject themes showing the position reached on "No deal" Brexit preparedness. The papers cover Aviation; Civil Nuclear Co-operation; Civil Nuclear Safeguards; Competition; Customs; the Environment  ;Fisheries; Food & Drink; Insurance; Intellectual Property; Justice & Home Affairs; Land Transport; Livestock; Mutual Recognition; Nuclear Research; Organic Equivalence; Political [implications]; Trade; and Wider Trade & Customs. These are vast areas and the updates only deal with very specific aspects of their subject-matters but the Department has confirmed that it will keep the public updated on developments.

There is enormous work to be done and it will almost certainly not be completed if a "No deal" Brexit  occurs on 29th March 2019 at 11pm UK time  but some progress at least is being made.