A&O Shearman | FinReg | UK Government Announces "Brexit Freedoms Bill"
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  • UK Government Announces "Brexit Freedoms Bill"

    U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that a "Brexit Freedoms Bill" will be put before Parliament. Upon Brexit taking effect, all then in force EU Regulations were "on-shored" automatically into U.K. laws, pursuant to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, and then subject to (mostly only technical) amendments. The new bill is intended to make it easier to amend or remove retained EU laws, to better suit the U.K.'s circumstances and policies. The EUWA also replicated the then-status quo, that EU laws prevailed over conflicting national laws. The government is now also seeking to remove the supremacy of EU laws. At the same time, the government published a policy paper on the benefits of Brexit.

    The Brexit Freedoms Bill is intended to work in tandem with a government drive to reform, repeal and replace EU laws that are seen as outdated, cumbersome or otherwise not in the U.K.'s national interest. This is linked to the reviews begun by former Brexit Minister, Lord Frost, of retained EU laws. The first is on the substance of retained EU laws and is being handled by government departments. The second review is on the legal status of retained EU laws. Several EU concepts that still affect the U.K. have been identified, including:
    • the interpretation of retained EU laws according to the EU's "purposive approach" to interpretation;
    • the obligation on U.K. courts to apply the findings of the Court of Justice of the European Union;
    • the way in which retained EU law has been incorporated into U.K. laws and given a special status, which is mostly as primary legislation, including the need to amend that status for the purpose of swift amendment or repeal; and
    • the supremacy of retained EU law.

    Related to the Prime Minister's announcement, the House of Commons has published a call for evidence on retained EU law, which is considering the impact of retained EU law in the context of Lord Frost's reviews. In addition, the European Affairs Committee (House of Lords) is holding an inquiry into the U.K.-EU relationship in financial services, which is considering the impact of Brexit on the U.K. financial services sector and the absence of a functioning framework for U.K.-EU regulatory cooperation, the future of cross-border financial services without equivalence and the impact of regulatory divergence and agreements with third countries on U.K.-EU financial services trade.

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