Brexit: Agreement reached on human rights. What’s next?

Brussels news correspondents reported on a small victory in the ongoing Brexit negotiations. The UK has given in and agreed to remain tied to European human rights rules in order to get a trade and security deal with Brussels. 

Boris Johnson has accepted that police and judicial cooperation between the UK and the EU must be reinforced by the European Convention of Human Rights after the transition period. According to Michel Barnier, this agreement will help Britain to keep the country safe thanks to the sharing of criminal data with the bloc. 

The UK has already hinted around a month ago that they were willing to cave in on this demand. When the news of the agreement being reached surfaced, Downing Street’s spokesman said, “The UK remains committed to the ECHR – we have been clear on that time and time again, including in Parliament” adding, “We agree that cooperation with the EU should be based on our shared values of respect for fundamental rights and for the rule of law.”

When speaking to the MEPs last Friday, Mr Barnier said, “We can now finalise those points.” This marks a small victory in the Brexit-deal negotiations, leaving one less issue to be discussed and agreed on. 

Is Britain leading the EU into its “negotiating trap”?

The French European affairs minister, Clément Beaune criticised the UK for believing that extending the negotiations to the last minute will work in its favour. “We have a bit of time left but still a long way to go and if the UK believes that [the limited] time left works in its favour as it has in the past few years, that is not the case,” Beaune said.

Simon Coveney suggested that the UK’s tactic is to agree to some of those demands laid out by the EU with regards to state aid and human rights in order to gain leverage with, and essentially force a last-minute compromise out of the bloc on the fisheries issue. Both the UK and the EU know a trade deal at the end of the transition period would be far more beneficial for both parties. 

Coveney said the opponents are not going to fall for the “British negotiating trap”, adding “We’re not playing that game. If there isn’t an agreement on this the whole thing could fall on the back of it.” 

Labour criticises the government for “burdening” the businesses with Brexit preparations

Labour MPs have criticised the government for failing to prepare businesses for the impacts of leaving the EU. They believe that businesses have not been given enough certainty over the outcome of the negotiations.

Rachel Reeves, Labour party politician commented saying, “Once again, this government is putting the burden on businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period, when it has not explained what it is those businesses are getting ready for, is it for tariffs or no tariffs with the EU?”

She also demanded Michael Gove to give clarity as to how many customs agents have been recruited or trained, and whether the IT is ready for the post-Brexit trade. Reeves added, “With glaring questions like these still unanswered, this government must do much more than just ‘demand action’ from UK businesses, already under huge pressure from the pandemic – and instead provide them with some much-needed answers.” 

The criticism for ‘demanding action’ from businesses comes after Alok Sharma, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy sent nearly five million letters to British businesses laying out “the top actions they need to take”. 

The slogan writes “ACT NOW” and the letter urges businesses to check things such as visa and permit requirements, register for licensed visa sponsors, get professional qualifications recognised by the EU and prepare for data protection and data transfers. The short sentence under each point does not offer further insight into the specifics of the preparations required. Many businesses say they are struggling to prepare because of the lack of clarity of future relationships. 

Here at UKCS, we understand the unease you may be feeling right now. Hence why we spent so much time and resources to help our clients deal with the requirements of the transition and post-Brexit future. Our services are extensive and are strongly supported by our in-house IT team, which allows us to offer you exactly what your business needs. Get in touch today!