Bar Council: Brexit specialists call for detailed blue prints on PM's mutual recognition plan

Posted On: 
5th April 2018

The Prime Minister’s goal of a ‘comprehensive system of mutual recognition’ could facilitate ‘frictionless’ trade, according to the Bar Council, but the profession’s Brexit law experts have also warned that this is not a simple ‘plug and play’ solution, and would require the UK to look again at some of its ‘red lines’.

As the Bar Council published its latest Brexit Paper, Brussels Consultant Director Evanna Fruitof also pointed out the limitations of replicating the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU as an off-the-shelf model.

She said: “So far, we have been given only the merest outline of a comprehensive system of mutual recognition. As with many other aspects of the Government’s vision for the future EU-UK relationship, what we urgently need from the Government is a more detailed blue-print of how that system will be built.

“The current EU system of mutual recognition operates against the backdrop of an ever-increasing set of common rules and a centralised system of checks and balances, supported by national and supranational systems of law, judicial supervision and dispute resolution.  It is against this backdrop that Member States have the trust and confidence in each other’s systems necessary for current mutual recognition arrangements effectively to operate.

“The UK’s red lines, which include leaving the single market, the customs union and the jurisdiction of the CJEU will make the continuation or recreation of that framework much harder to achieve. We therefore need quick, imaginative and clearly articulated thinking on what that legal framework will be.”

The Bar Council’s paper also warns that on recognition of professional qualifications, CETA does not go far enough and merely encourages regulatory bodies in the EU and Canada to agree to reduce barriers to requalification, where possible.

Evanna Fruitof said: “We need an ambitious plan that takes us well beyond CETA. On professional qualifications, for example, CETA is more about expressing hopes than guaranteeing rights. It is a reminder that mutual recognition, divorced from a binding system of common and enforceable rules, may be of limited value when it comes to trade.

“As the Chancellor has already acknowledged, any agreement on mutual recognition will need to be underpinned by proper governance structures, dispute resolution mechanisms and sensible notice periods to market participants.

“Though a degree of common ground appears to exist as to the right approach, the Bar recommends that both sides urgently focus on developing and agreeing the core elements of a framework for mutual recognition.”