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UK and EU Publish Draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement

On November 14, a technical agreement was reached between the negotiators of the UK and the EU in relation to the terms of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU (the Withdrawal Agreement). Published alongside the Withdrawal Agreement was a non-binding Political Declaration, providing an overview of the intended future relationship between the UK and EU.

Withdrawal Agreement

The draft Withdrawal Agreement itself spans 585 pages and focuses on the transition period of Brexit, following March 29, 2019 (Exit Day) and ending December 31 2020, with an option for the transition period to be extended once more, up to an as yet unspecified, to be agreed, future date. The transition period is designed to allow for governments, businesses and citizens on both sides to prepare for the final withdrawal of the UK and allow time for the negotiation of the future relationship between the two.

During the transition period, the draft Withdrawal Agreement provides that EU law will continue to apply in the UK, unless stated otherwise. As UK-EU financial services are not specifically addressed, EU law will continue to apply during the transition period, allowing both EU and UK firms to, for example, continue to use passporting rights into and out of the UK. Financial services will then be subject to bespoke UK- and EU-specific legislative solutions at the end of the transition period or, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, following Exit Day.

Political Declaration

Some of the highlights from the Political Declaration include:

  • a free trade area and deep co-operation on goods, with zero tariffs and quotas;

  • commitments by both parties to preserve financial stability, market integrity, investor protection and fair competition, while respecting the parties’ regulatory and decision-making autonomy, and their ability to take equivalence decisions in their own interest;

  • both sides working to complete equivalence assessments as soon as possible after the UK’s withdrawal, with the aim of completing equivalence assessments by June 2020; and

  • the completion of an adequacy assessment by the EU in relation to the UK’s regime for personal data and the adoption of related decisions by the end of 2020.

Next Steps

Withdrawal Agreement approval requires political approval by the EU 27 Member States (scheduled to take place at an emergency EU summit on November 25), a vote in the UK House of Commons (expected to take place in early December) and votes by the European Parliament and European Council.

If the Withdrawal Agreement fails to pass any of the above steps before Exit Day, no-deal Brexit contingency plans are currently being put into place (for examples of some of the efforts taking place to plan for a no-deal Brexit, see the August 24 and November 9 editions of Corporate & Financial Weekly Digest).

The Withdrawal Agreement is available here.

The Political Declaration is available here.

©2020 Katten Muchin Rosenman LLPNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 320


About this Author

John Ahern, Financial Attorney, London, Katten Law Firm

John Ahern, partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman UK LLP and head of the London Financial Services group, focuses his practice on banking, financial services, UK and European financial markets, and related regulations. His background in private practice and as in-house counsel at a global investment bank provides him with perspective on the unique regulatory issues facing the wholesale and private banking sectors. John advises multilateral trading facilities, broker-dealers and banks on trading, clearing and settlement as well as custody of securities—both physical and...

+44 (0) 20 7770 5253
Carolyn H. Jackson, International Attorney, Katten Muchin law firm

Carolyn Jackson is a partner in Katten Muchin Rosenman UK LLP and is a Registered Foreign Lawyer. She provides US financial regulatory legal advice to a broad range of market participants, including commercial banks, investment banks, investment managers, broker-dealers, electronic trading platforms, clearinghouses, trade associations and over-the-counter derivatives service providers.

Carolyn guides clients in the structuring and offering of complex securities, commodities and derivatives transactions and in complying with US securities and commodities laws and regulations. 

+44 0 20 7776 7625
Nathaniel Lalone, Katten Muchin Law Firm, Financial Institutions Attorney
Senior Associate

Nathaniel Lalone, a partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman UK LLP, has a broad range of experience in the regulation of financial products and financial markets, and frequently provides regulatory and compliance advice to trading venues, clearing houses and buy-side firms active in the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives, futures and securities markets. He is actively involved in advising clients on the implementation of MiFID 2 and MiFIR in the European Union as well as the international reach of US financial services regulation. He also has significant experience with structuring...

+44 0 20 7776 7629
Neil Robson, private equity fund managers counselor, Katten Law Firm, London

Neil Robson, a regulatory and compliance partner with Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, focuses his practice on counseling hedge and private equity fund managers and other investment advisers on operational, regulatory and compliance issues. He regularly addresses Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and EU authorization and compliance under both the EU Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFM Directive) and MiFID, cross-border issues in the financial services sector, market abuse, anti-money laundering and regulatory capital requirements, formations and buyouts of...