The notification triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union and allowed discussions on withdrawal to begin. Complex negotiations were concluded in October 2019 with a withdrawal agreement and a political declaration paving the way for an ordered withdrawal on 31 January 2020. On 3 February 2020, the European Commission recommended that the Council begin negotiations for a new partnership with the UNITED Kingdom. The political statement refers to the autonomy of regulation and decision-making of each bloc and its ability to make equivalency decisions in its own interest. From a British point of view, the latter reference to autonomy is less welcome when it comes to achieving considerable market access in equivalence. If one does not read about the objective of going beyond WTO obligations, there is no explicit reference to an extension of equivalence beyond the existing patch work. In this context, Steven Maijoor, President of the European Financial Markets Authority (ESMA), has already called for a comprehensive and harmonised European regime for trading platforms in third countries. The policy statement also refers to the fact that both parties begin to assess equivalence to each other as soon as possible after the withdrawal, so that they can be completed before the end of the second quarter of 2020. In order to allay the UNITED Kingdom`s concerns about the sudden withdrawal of equivalence, the documents promise “transparency and appropriate consultation in the process of accepting, suspending and withdrawing equivalency decisions.” We can also expect “close and structured cooperation” in regulation and oversight, as well as information exchange and consultation on regulatory initiatives of common interest, both at the political and technical level. It is likely that, in some areas, the ACF may still contribute in one way or another to the European supervisory authorities and their development of post-Brexit policy. The most important elements of the draft agreement are: During the transition period, the UK and the EU-27 will endeavour to conclude the agreement that will strengthen their trade relations after the end of the transition period. On the basis of the revised political declaration, the EU and the United Kingdom appear to be aiming for a comprehensive but “classic” free trade agreement for goods, services and investment. The political statement is thin in detail, but trade in goods will be based on a free trade agreement that will at least guarantee that there will be no tariffs or quotas, as well as some degree of regulatory alignment with the EU.
However, as a result of the free trade agreement, customs controls are required, requiring each party to prove that the goods originate from their respective customs territory, in order to obtain duty-free treatment. This means that the UK and the EU-27 must now agree on detailed rules of origin. This is probably a complex and tedious process. At least companies need to think about the rules of origin they want for different products and start putting pressure on them as soon as the UK and eu start negotiating the new free trade agreement. It is encouraging to note that the scope of the future trade regime appears to encompass services, including financial services and investment (although the agreement is in turn very detailed) and that it provides assurance that the agreement on future relations will offer a liberalisation of trade in services well beyond the obligations of the United Kingdom and the WTO. On the European Union side, the European Parliament also approved the ratification of the agreement on 29 January 2020 and the Council of the European Union approved the conclusion of the agreement by e-mail on 30 January 2020.  That is why, on 30 January 2020, the European Union also tabled its instrument for ratifying the agreement, concluding the agreement and allowing it to enter into force on the date of the UK`s withdrawal from the EU at 11 .m.