On the future UK-EU Relations

Resolution submitted by JEF Political Commission 1: Institutions and Governance.
Adopted by the Federal Committee in Luxembourg on 10 April 2022.

JEF Europe,

  • Recalling that the United Kingdom left the EU on 31 January 2020 under the terms of a negotiated divorce deal (the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration) bringing to an end 47 years of British membership of the EU and the institutions that preceded it;
  • Emphasising that “Brexit” represents the most important constitutional shake-up the UK has known since it joined the six-nation European Economic Community in 1973 and that it is the first time the European Union has lost a member;
  • Recalling further that a “transition period” keeping most pre-departure arrangements in place ended on 31 December 2020;
  • Recalling that under immense political pressure and time constraint a last-minute deal on post-Brexit trade and future EU-UK relations (the Trade and Cooperation Agreement – hereunder “TCA”), was struck on Christmas Eve 2020 after months of deadlocked negotiations, and the formal ratification process was completed in April 2021;
  • Recalling – as an example – that the UK’s departure from the EU’s Single Market, Customs Union and integrated institutional framework:
    • has brought significant disruption to trade, particularly to UK exports to the EU due to new border rules and red tape;
    • has contributed to significant labour shortages in the UK as there was an exodus of European workers and tighter immigration rules put in place unilaterally by the UK;
    • has disrupted the service market as UK service providers can no longer operate across national borders in the EU as they did before and has brought back roaming charges and;
    • has prompted outcry as new residency rights and travel rules sometimes led to some European arrivals in the UK being detained and deported;
  • Recalling further that the UK:
    • has left Europol, Eurojust and the European Arrest Warrant;
    • has left Erasmus Student Exchange Program and has set up its own Turing Scheme;
    • will leave Euratom and the Single Market for trade in nuclear materials and technology, which ensures the security of atomic energy supply and enables the pooling of knowledge, research, infrastructure and funding of nuclear energy;
    • will leave the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) – the EU’s flagship cap-and-trade tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – thus will no longer be part of the EU’s joint action against climate change and no longer benefit from the financial support EU Member States receive to develop and deploy low-carbon technologies, or for adaptation measures;
    • is still a member of the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation “Horizon Europe” but subject to a time limitation of 7 years;
  • Recalling that the TCA:
    • allows for tariff-free, quota-free access to each other’s markets for goods — but not services — and also covers future competition,
      fishing rights, and cooperation on matters such as security;
    • does not cover, however, questions in the field such as foreign and defence policy, and financial services;
  • Recalling that after Brexit the UK is beyond the remit of EU law or the European Court of Justice (ECJ);
  • Noting with worry that since Brexit, the UK and EU have already clashed over several issues including diplomatic representationcoronavirus vaccine exports — and above all, new arrangements for Northern Ireland, leading to the Commission even launching legal action against the UK over the breach of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

JEF Europe,

  • Regrets the decision of the UK to leave the European Union but respects the outcome of the 2016 referendum;
  • Is determined that Brexit should not hinder further European integration and that it is time for the European Project to move on and be even more ambitious than ever before;
  • Convinced that crucial factors such as geographic proximity, and the sharing of values and principles of peace, freedom and mutual assistance must play a pivotal role in shaping the future EU-UK cooperation;
  • Believes that any future cooperation must be based on mutual trust and respect and that both parties must invest more to rebuild trust in the relationship in order to work for common global interests;

With regards to the Foreign and Defence Policy:

More particularly on Europol:

  1. Favours the establishment of a UK liaison officer to Europol;
  2. Invites both parties to establish deeper cooperation in matters relating to data information exchange;
  3. Encourages the EU to grant the UK access to its Europol Information System (EIS), Europol Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA) and Cyber Threat Intelligence and the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) on a reciprocal basis;
  4. Recognises, understands and applauds the EU’s cautiousness when it comes to transfers of personal data protected by Art. 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights;
  5. Suggests the EU and the UK conclude a free-data-flow and access agreement which includes higher data protection standards than EU law specifies and contains necessary safeguards such as the possibility of revoking it at any time if deemed necessary;
  6. Suggests with affirmation that if either party infringes the terms and conditions of the free-data agreement, the ECJ shall be competent over the issue;

More particularly on Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) operations:

  1. Encourages the UK to participate closely in European Defence Agency (EDA) activities;
  2. Promotes efforts to improve UK-EU military mobility as this would contribute to a collective defence and deterrence posture;
  3. Encourages the UK to participate in the EDA efforts on integrating EDA work on integrating MALE RPAS (Medium Altitude Long Endurance, Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) in air traffic, helicopter training, and maritime surveillance;
  4. Encourages the EU Member States and the High Representative to invite the UK to the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (known as CARD);
  5. Encourages the UK to participate in CSDP operations as has been the case for multiple partners ranging from the US to Norway, Columbia to South Korea, for example;
  6. Welcomes UK’s participation in Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) projects, which would rely on the existing framework for third party access, as defined in the November 2020 agreement by the PESCO member states and which thus does not grant the UK participation in the “governance” level of PESCO but would allow it to access individual projects;
  7. Favours the UK’s participation in joint military research and industrial projects, though ensuring to foster EU’s own defence champions to establish close cooperation and preserve European know-how.

Calls for joint EU-UK meetings to be held on defence and security issues in order to find a common ground and undertake common action in fields where
a common geopolitical interest is identified;

Invites both partners to cooperate towards dismantling European energy dependence on foreign gas and safeguard our common aim to become the first net-zero emission continent.

With regards to the Devolved Administrations (Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales):

  1. Stresses the importance of ensuring peace in Northern Ireland;
  2. Demands that the Good Friday agreement is respected under any circumstances;
  3. Respects the outcome of a possible referendum backed by popular support calling for the accession of Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland and thus to the European Union;
  4. Acknowledge any aspiration from any devolved administration who may eventually seek to join the European Union, regardless of any potential referendums;

With regards to Antitrust, Mergers and State Aid:

  • More specifically on Antitrust:
  1. Calls for any future comprehensive or sector-specific agreement to include more concrete and detailed provisions on mutual notifications, coordination of enforcement activities, information exchange, the use of information, and confidentiality which would amongst other things enable the European Commission to request assistance from the UK-Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in dawn raids in the UK;
  2. Invites the EU authorities to envisage granting the CMA a special observer position within the European Competition Network (ECN)+;

More specifically on Mergers: 

  1. Calls for any future comprehensive or sector-specific agreement to also include more concrete and detailed provisions on mutual notifications, coordination of enforcement activities, information exchange, the use of information, and confidentiality with regards to mergers and acquisitions;

More specifically on State Aid:

  1. Demands that future state aid and subsidies granted by the UK must respect the principles outlined in the TCA, especially:
    • that a contribution must target a well-defined objective of public interest (for example the green transition);
    • the need for state intervention to remedy a market failure (for example ensuring school bus services to remote villages);
    • the appropriateness or incentive effect of the subsidy (there is no other measure available that would lead to the same effect);
    • the proportionality of the subsidy, taking into account its negative effects on trade between the EU and UK.
  2. Demands further that the dispute resolution mechanism agreed upon in the TCA is made use of as efficiently as possible in order to prevent trade-distorting subsidies, and in this way seek to further prevent diversion of investment and jobs losses;

With regards to the EU Emission Trading System (ETS):

  1. Considers and emphasises that the most effective way to reduce carbon and other emissions is for the UK to follow the so-called “Norwegian model” which consists of a total merger of the participating States’ (here UK) domestic ETS with the EU ETS;
  2. Calls for the UK to design its ETS in a way that is compatible with the EU ETS, making the merger immediately viable;
  3. Calls for the UK ETS system therefore to be mandatory, have an absolute cap and have a stringent monitoring, reporting and verification framework;
  4. Suggests that compliance oversight is carried out by the national competent authority as identified by EU rules;
  5. Demands that jurisdictional control however is in the hands of the ECJ;

With regards to Civil society, Education and Research & Development:

  1. Stresses the importance of intercultural and multilingual exchange and the benefits of every kind of exchange program, especially the Erasmus Student Exchange Program;
  2. Therefore calls upon the UK to rejoin immediately the Erasmus Student Exchange Program;
  3. Wishes to ensure that research cooperation between British and European universities can continue under joint British and European funding;
  4. Encourages to make fruitful use of the parliamentary assembly as well as a civil society forum as foreseen by the TCA as they bear the potential of being tools for greater mutual understanding and cooperation;
  5. Supports every kind of bottom up links via think tanks, academia and civil society between the UK and EU;
  6. Welcomes the British decision to remain a valuable member of the European Space Agency and continue research investments within its framework;
  7. Promotes the respect of the citizens’ rights as guaranteed by the Withdrawal Agreement granting rights to EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU;
  8. Underlines the importance of resolving operational challenges regarding the implementation of said rights;
  9. Commits to lobbying decision-makers on both sides of the Channel to expand the citizen rights agreements currently in place;
  10. Encourages an open information sharing between the UK and the EU about the state of each side’s society, economy and trade, to promote fair and open discussions for both sides;

Finally, JEF Europe

  1. Supports JEF UK in their European federalist efforts in the United Kingdom;
  2. Welcomes the United Kingdom to join a future European Federation in a constructive and like-minded spirit.