House of Commons Report on UK and EU diplomacy post Brexit

Posted in Sanctions

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has published a Report on the future of UK diplomacy in Europe post Brexit (“Report”). The Report notes the advantages of the UK continuing to co-operate with the EU on foreign policy, defence and security matters.  The Report suggests models that can be utilised to do so, considers the FCO’s scope in Europe and the how the UK’s relations with Ireland should remain, and finally recommends that the Government should publish a position paper within 3 months outlining its aims for cooperation between the UK and EU on foreign policy and security matters.

The full Report follows other publications on the UK Government’s proposals for future partnership with the EU regarding foreign policy and defence, including in relation to sanctions (for example, see UK Government Paper dated 12 September 2017). In this briefing we set out some of the salient points of the proposed models in the Report, and comment on the potential impact this may have on the future of UK sanctions regimes.

The EU and UK foreign, defence and security policy models

The UK Government has indicated that it will work with the EU on implementing foreign, defence and security policies, but has not yet specified how it intends to do so. The Report lays out various models which could be adopted by the Government:

1. Current models

The Report refers to the current models adopted by non-EU Members to form a partnership with the EU on foreign, defence and security policies. However, these models would not allow the UK to influence the making of these policies as no voting rights would be afforded. They include:

  • Participation in Common Foreign and Security Policy (“CFSP”) and Common Security and Defence Policy (“CSDP”) meetings.
  • Alignment with CFSP decisions on a case by case basis and an invite to participate in CSDP missions.
  • Structured foreign policy dialogues (the model that governs the relationship between the EU and the USA).

2. Special partnership model

The Report refers to support for a special partnership model. The model would recognise the UK’s previous position as an EU Member by granting the UK permanent PSC observer status and allowing for regular political meetings. Additionally, the Report suggests that the partnership between the EU and UK should be complemented with an ‘Enhanced Framework Participation Agreement’, giving the UK a defined role in policy development.

3. Institutionalised non-binding collaboration model

This model would see the UK granted EU partner/associate status, allowing the UK to be present at CSFP/CSDP matters.

4. Treaty of mutual association model

The Report highlights that many within the field of foreign policy, defence and security believe the UK’s relationship with the EU post Brexit should be on an informal basis; new ties need to be formed between the EU and UK through the establishment of an EU-UK Council.

Potential impact on UK sanctions post Brexit

The Report sets out suggested models rather than commitments to specific approaches, but the ultimate solution is likely to have a significant impact on the future of UK sanctions regimes. The UK Government has been clear in its intention to implement a UK national legal framework for sanctions (read our previous briefings here), while at the same time emphasising the importance of continued cooperation and collaboration with the EU.

The Report highlights some of the difficulties that the UK may face in maintaining a close relationship with the EU, including the sharing of information and its role in aligning policy. To ensure that sanctions regimes remain effective post Brexit, there will need to be a balance between UK autonomy when imposing sanctions as currently envisaged by the Government, and the requirements of the EU and potentially other third states, most notably the USA.


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