Experts assess policy implications of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement

In late December, the United Kingdom and the European Union reached an historic accord that outlines new rules for the parties’ relationship following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. On January 14, in a virtual event co-hosted by the Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law & Justice at NYU Law and the Institute for International Law and Justice’s MegaReg project, experts discussed issues raised by the new EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and its policy implications. 

Joseph Straus Professor of Law Joseph Weiler moderated the discussion, which included presentations on the agreement’s provisions regarding energy and climate change; its impact on Ireland; its regulation of data flows; and its relationship to trade rules under the World Trade Organization, among other topics. 

Selected remarks from the discussion:

Jesse Scott, international director, Agora Energiewende (Berlin)
“The agreement [regarding energy and climate change] is thin even on these two most obvious common interests of the EU and the UK.… Both parties are signed to the Paris agreement, both parties indeed have net-zero [carbon] target commitments. So when Commission President von der Leyen said in one of her early reactions to the agreement that energy and climate are the first two issues of common interest that the UK and EU will continue to work on together post-Brexit, that sounds nice, but it’s kind of obvious. In fact, if anything, it’s a hint about how little else there is that seems high on the agenda to work together on.” 

Thomas Streinz, executive director of Guarini Global Law & Tech, NYU Law
“[It] says a lot on data in the agreement, reflecting the increasing importance of data as an economic asset and the increasing role of digital infrastructures for what’s called the digital economy, but is increasingly the economy as a whole.… There’s a lot [in the agreement] that really creates a regulatory environment for the digital economy that might have long-lasting implications for the future regulatory agenda on both sides of the Channel.”  

Meredith Crowley, reader in international economics, University of Cambridge
“The news in the UK already is full of anecdotes of British firms not being able to export their merchandise to the EU. So there’s already stories about all of the hiccups that we’re seeing with logistics.… I think what we’re going to see over the next six to nine months is not just the sort of short-term, ‘how do we get this logistical problem sorted?’ [issues], but we’re also going to start to see some of the deeper problems that are related to more structural, say, shortcomings of the agreement, and which will hopefully lay the groundwork for some further, deeper work.”