The Brexit Timetable. Key Questions and Challenges for the UK and Scotland

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Series Details No.3, June 2017
Publication Date June 2017
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The Scottish Centre on European Relations (SCER) was launched in March 2017 as a new, independent and unaligned Scottish EU think tank.

SCER) aimed to inform, debate, and provide up-to-the-minute, high-quality research and analysis of European Union developments and challenges. It would focus on pan-EU issues as well as having a particular focus on Scotland’s EU interests and policies.

SCER would provide in-depth, impartial research and analysis on Brexit – looking at EU27, UK and Scottish interests and debates. SCER would also carry out up-to-the minute policy research on a range of key European Union issues including the future of the EU at a time of multiple challenges; the migration and refugee crisis, and the EU’s turbulent neighbourhood.The Scottish Centre on European Relations issued in June 2017 a policy paper, The Brexit Timetable. Key Questions and Challenges for the UK and Scotland, by its Director, Dr Kirsty Hughes, and Tobias Lock.

The Brexit talks started on 19 June 2017. Under Article 50, an exit deal must be agreed and ratified before 30 March 2019, otherwise the UK will simply be deemed to have left the EU on this date. It was a very tight 21-month timetable, even before the general election made it look many times more difficult to keep to.

Talks would cover an exit deal, including transition arrangements, and the framework for a future UK-EU27 trade deal. All this must happen in parallel with the UK sorting out its own future policy and legal frameworks, including many questions that involved Scotland and the other devolved administrations. The UK government planned to tackle this through the Great Repeal Bill and other necessary bills (including on migration, tax, agriculture and more).

In this paper, the authors outline the timetable and key questions and problems for the UK and Scotland that were likely to arise at different points in the months ahead. There was a clear risk that the talks could break down, perhaps irretrievably. The authors look at what was likely to happen, assuming the talks stayed on track and a deal was done and ratified by March 2019.

They do not here go into the additional problems posed of having an unstable minority government but this would clearly make both tracks – the talks in Brussels and the interrelated, necessary domestic legislative processes – many times more difficult. Brexit is not only a UK-EU27 deal – it requires a whole raft of laws and policies to go through Westminster and that is now many times more difficult. We do not either go into the question of how long the subsequent comprehensive trade and security deal will take to negotiate and ratify – though it will take several more years after 2019. Our focus here is on the exit and transition deal.

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Related Links
ESO: Background information: What are the prospects for the Repeal Bill? (IfG, July 2017)
ESO: In Focus: Brexit - The United Kingdom and the European Union

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