The British government will set out plans today (30 March) to convert European Union laws into domestic legislation to give “businesses, workers and consumers the certainty they need” as Britain exits the bloc.
A day after British Prime Minister Theresa May launched the formal divorce process, saying there was no turning back, her government will publish a formal policy document on its “Great Repeal Bill”.
The White Paper, which sets out the government’s proposals for future legislation, will, according to Brexit minister David Davis, end “the supremacy of lawmakers in Brussels” but also give a legal framework for firms to be able to plan.
“At the heart of the referendum decision was sovereignty. A strong, independent country needs control of its own laws. That process starts now,” Davis said in a statement.
“Converting EU law into UK law… will mean that as we seek a comprehensive new economic partnership with the EU, our allies will know that we start from a position where we have the same standards and rules.”
Many business leaders are deeply concerned about May’s decision to leave Europe’s single market, a free trade area of 500 million people that represents Britain’s largest trading partner.
Some companies have said they cannot plan without knowing what comes after Brexit, forcing them to put investment programmes on hold and sometimes delaying major infrastructure projects.
By converting the body of EU law into British legislation, May’s government hopes to ease those concerns by offering that “wherever practical, the same rules and laws will apply after exit day”.
“It will then be for elected politicians in this country to make changes in the national interest,” the Brexit ministry said.
Merkel says ‘nein’ to parallel talks
Meanwhile, Brexit quickly got off to a rocky start, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuffed May’s call for negotiations on Britain’s withdrawal to run alongside talks on a future trade agreement.
Britain intends to leave Europe’s single market in order to control migration, but is hopeful a new trade deal can be struck before it leaves the EU by the latest at midnight on 29 March 2019.
Merkel said however that the divorce must come first – including tough talks on Britain’s financial contributions, as well as immigration.
“Only when this question is dealt with, can we, hopefully soon after, begin talking about our future relationship,” she said in Berlin.
France’s foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was on the same line, saying another negotiation process will open after Brexit.
“After the negotiation of the separation, there will be another negotiation and that will be the organisation of the future relations between the 27 in the European Union and Great Britain,” Ayrault told reporters.
One of the priorities for Brussels is settling Britain’s outstanding bills, estimated at between €55 and €60 billion – an early battle that could set the tone for the rest of the talks.
May meanwhile barely mentioned Britain’s exit bill, apparently playing down a toxic issue.