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Making sense of the Brexit papers

Jon deBeer

In between the summer stories of a pregnant panda, Bonnie Tyler aptly performing during the solar eclipse and the “final” bongs of Big Ben you may have also noticed that there has been a flurry of Brexit activity in the corridors of Whitehall. The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) has published a series of position papers setting out the UK’s proposals on a number of issues. These papers have covered areas including future customs arrangements, Northern Ireland, continuity of goods, exchange of personal data and a cross-border judicial cooperation framework.

Why have the papers been published?

The UK government is setting out its formal position on a gamut of areas ahead of the 3rd round of EU negotiations which begin next week. The EU Commission has welcomed the publication of the position papers but indicated that their priority remains the discussion of the three key areas of financial settlement, Northern Ireland and citizens’ rights.

What is important for our industry?

  • The UK papers have attempted to address a broader range of topics by including future customs arrangements and transitionals for goods in Phase 1 of the discussion. This is a positive step, but it is important that both the UK and EU recognise the need for certainty in services as well as goods.
  • The Northern Ireland paper mentions the insurance concerns around cross-border motor travel. We have been highlighting this issue with the Government since the referendum and it is positive that it is being raised early in the withdrawal negotiations.
  • The paper on the exchange and protection of personal data highlights the need for continued free flow of data between the UK and EU and the UK and third countries (like the US). The need for an early adequacy agreement on data transfers continues to be an insurance industry priority. An adequacy agreement currently relies on a political decision by the European Commission and cannot be formally undertaken until the UK has left the EU. It would be a very positive step if this could be addressed during the Article 50 negotiations.

What happens next?

The EU Council will assess in October whether significant progress has been made on their Phase 1 priorities to allow the Commission to move into Phase 2 of discussion. There have been rumours that this may be delayed until December to allow for a new German government to form following their Parliamentary elections. We are continuing to engage with the Government, MPs and regulators on our key issues including the treatment of existing insurance contracts – members can see our stakeholder briefing note on this below.

Last updated 25/08/2017