On 6 September 2020, the Financial Times reported that the UK government was considering drafting new laws to circumvent the protocol of the Northern Ireland Withdrawal Agreement.  The new law would give ministers the power to determine which state aid should be notified to the EU and to define which products at risk of being transferred from Northern Ireland to Ireland (the withdrawal agreement stipulates that in the absence of a reciprocal agreement, all products are considered vulnerable).  The government defended this approach and stated that the legislation was in accordance with protocol and that it had only “clarified” the volumity in the protocol.  Ursula von der Leyen warned Johnson not to violate international law and said that the implementation of the withdrawal agreement by Britain was a “precondition for any future partnership”.  On 8 September, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, told the British Parliament that the government`s internal market bill would “violate international law”.”  Britain insists that an agreement be reached to respect its regulatory autonomy and its status as an independent coastal state. In the first part (common provisions) of the draft treaty, it is stated that all areas of partnership should be governed by a single governance structure. It refers to some key elements of relations, including the rule of law and human rights, the fight against climate change and the fight against weapons of mass destruction. The “Future Relations with the EU” document contains a number of proposals for our negotiations with the EU. Draft legislation forms the legal articulation of this approach and forms the basis of discussions with the EU. On 15 November 2018, the day after the agreement and the support of the British government were presented, several members of the government resigned, including Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for leaving the European Union.  The 2019 revisions also adapted elements of the political statement that replaced the word “appropriate” with “appropriate” with respect to labour standards. According to Sam Lowe, a trade fellow at the Centre for European Reform, the amendment excludes labour standards from dispute resolution mechanisms.  In addition, the Equal Competition Mechanism has been postponed from the legally binding withdrawal agreement to the political declaration, and the line of the political statement that “the United Kingdom will consider taking into account alignment with trade union rules in the relevant areas” has been removed.
 This agreement is an extension of the Brexit withdrawal agreement (but is not conditional) signed at the end of the Brexit negotiations.  On 19 May, the British government published a draft law on future relations with the EU. Not surprisingly, it contains a number of important differences from the EU bill published at the end of February. The Brussels office will continue to monitor the response to the next round of negotiations this week, which begins on 8 June, to see if both sides are making progress in order to close the gap before the inventory scheduled for June.