Uk/EU Future Economic Partnership

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:34 pm on 5th March 2018.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:34 pm, 5th March 2018

With permission, Mr Speaker, I shall make a statement on our future economic partnership with the European Union.

In December we agreed the key elements of our departure from the EU, and we are turning that agreement into draft legal text. We have made clear our concerns about the first draft that the Commission published last week, but no one should doubt our commitment to the entirety of the joint report. We are close to agreement on the terms of a time-limited implementation period to give Governments, businesses and citizens on both sides time to prepare for our new relationship, and I am confident that we can resolve our remaining differences in the days ahead. Now we must focus on our future relationship: a new relationship that respects the result of the referendum, provides an enduring solution, protects people’s jobs and security, is consistent with the kind of country that we want to be, and strengthens our union of nations and people. Those are the five tests for the deal that we will negotiate.

There are also some hard facts for both sides. First, we are leaving the single market. [Interruption.] In certain ways, our access to each other’s markets will be less than it is now. We need to strike a new balance. However, we will not accept the rights of Canada and the obligations of Norway.

Secondly, even after we have left, EU law and ECJ decisions will continue to affect us. The European Court of Justice determines whether agreements that the EU has struck are legal under the EU’s own law. If, as part of our future partnership, Parliament passes a law that is identical to an EU law, it may make sense for our courts to look at the appropriate ECJ judgments so that we both interpret those laws consistently—[Interruption] —as they do for the appropriate jurisprudence of other countries’ courts. However, the agreement that we reach must respect the sovereignty of both our legal orders. That means that the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the United Kingdom will end. It also means that the ultimate arbiter of disputes about our future partnership cannot be the court of either party.

Thirdly, if we want good access to each other’s markets, it has to be on fair terms. As with any trade agreement, we must accept the need for binding commitments, so we may choose to commit some areas of our regulations, such as state aid and competition, to remaining in step with the EU’s.

Finally, we must resolve the tensions between some of our objectives. We want the freedom to negotiate trade agreements around the world. We want control of our laws. We also want as frictionless a border as possible with the EU, so that we do not damage the integrated supply chains on which our industries depend, and do not have—[Interruption.]